How to Get Help for a Mental Breakdown

Nov 4, 2021 | Mental Breakdown, Anxiety, Blog, Depression, Emotional Breakdown, Helping a Loved One

Many people experience something called a “mental breakdown” every year. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 adults in the United States feels the symptoms associated with nervous breakdowns and mental health challenges. Although there are many misconceptions about what exactly a mental breakdown is, it’s most often a common side effect of depression or anxiety disorders.

How can you identify the signs of a nervous breakdown, and what can you do to help?

What is a Mental Breakdown?

A mental breakdown, also called an emotional breakdown, mental health crisis, or “nervous breakdown,” is when someone becomes overwhelmed with acute symptoms of severe mental stress. Emotional breakdowns can affect nearly anyone, from teenagers to elderly individuals. Usually, mental breakdowns happen as a result of a tragically stressful experience. However, they can also occur due to a buildup of smaller stressors over time.

Related: What is a Mental Breakdown?

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

When somebody is having a mental health crisis, they feel like their life is spiraling out of control. They might feel that their sense of self, belief systems, or lifestyle is being shaken and at risk of crumbling. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but the overall chaos people feel with a breakdown is similar.

Signs that someone is going through a mental breakdown include:

  • Extreme anxiety or panic attacks
  • Fast heart rate, sweaty palms, nervous “nausea”
  • Severe depression, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-injury
  • Dissociation
  • Flashbacks or nightmares
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Feeling physically and mentally paralyzed
  • Desire to disappear from life

How Can Someone Prevent a Nervous Breakdown?

Preventing a breakdown depends on your current mental health status. How are you taking care of your mental health? If you already have a diagnosis of some type of mental disorder, keeping up with treatment and self-care can help prevent symptoms from spiraling out of control. Checking yourself or your loved one into a medical or mental hospital is always better than risking worsening symptoms of suicide.

If you don’t have a mental illness or a diagnosis, having regular checkups with a psychologist or psychiatrist annually or every few months can help catch any early signs of mental spiraling. Everyone has struggles mentally from time to time; it’s okay to reach out and get the help you need.

What Causes a Mental Health Crisis?

Many times, these symptoms can resemble serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. But they can also be a result of untreated symptoms or exacerbated symptoms of:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Past Trauma
  • Psychotic Breaks
  • PTSD or C-PTSD
  • Unresolved life events
  • Major life changes

There is no one set answer to what “causes” a mental health crisis. Everyone has different levels of tolerance to stressors and suffering in life. Some things might set off a mental health crisis in someone that wouldn’t generally bother somebody else. There’s no way to know how or why exactly a mental breakdown is happening unless the person is aware of their emotions and mental state at the time.

How to Get Help During a Mental Breakdown

If you are having an emotional breakdown, it’s essential to reach out for help. Ignoring the red flags and difficulties of having a mental breakdown can make symptoms worse. It can be hard to overcome whatever challenges contribute to the breakdown if you try to do it independently.

Maintain Close Relationships

During times of mental distress, it might be tempting to withdraw from close family and friends due to feelings of being “crazy” or misunderstood. However, maintaining these relationships is crucial. Research consistently indicates a positive correlation between social support and mental health, highlighting the importance of a network of individuals you can trust. Be open about what you are experiencing; sharing your struggles can lessen the burden and provide the support you need during overwhelming times.

Reach Out For Help

During a mental health crisis, it’s important to remember that intense emotions are often temporary. If you find yourself overwhelmed, reaching out for professional help is crucial. Contacting mental health professionals or crisis hotlines can provide immediate support and guidance. Don’t hesitate to seek help—it’s a sign of strength, not weakness.

  • Mental Health Professionals: Consider scheduling an appointment with a counselor or therapist who can offer personalized therapies and ongoing support.
  • Crisis Hotlines: For immediate assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24/7, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 for support at any time.

Seek Mental Health Treatment

Remember, sometimes nervous breakdowns can be signs of a more serious mental health disorder. Getting the right evaluation and treatment is important in case any aspect of your mental health is not being properly addressed. Reach out to a professional psychologist or psychiatric treatment center like New Dimensions so you can receive the treatment needed, if any.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a non-emergency mental health crisis, contact New Dimensions today. We can help you decide which level of care and treatment is best for your unique situation.

Schedule an Assessment or Call us at 800-685-9796

Helping a Loved One With a Mental Breakdown

Witnessing someone in acute psychological distress can be alarming. This situation requires a compassionate and structured approach to support and guide your loved one toward professional help. Here are some steps you can take to assist effectively:

1. Stay Calm and Offer Reassurance

Your presence can provide immense comfort to someone experiencing a mental breakdown. It’s crucial to remain calm and collected, regardless of how intense the situation may seem. 

Speak gently and soothingly, reassuring your loved one that you’re there to support them. Avoid overwhelming them with questions or advice; let them know that they are not alone and that you are there to help them through this challenging time.

2. Create a Safe Environment

Ensure that the environment is safe and quiet. Remove any potential hazards from the area, and consider reducing sensory stimuli, such as loud noises or bright lights, which can exacerbate feelings of distress.

Encourage your loved one to sit down in a comfortable space, perhaps offering a blanket if they feel cold. This sense of physical security can help decrease their immediate anxiety and provide a stabilizing comfort.

3. Seek Professional Help

It’s essential to recognize when you need to involve professionals. If your loved one is in severe distress and you’re unable to manage the situation on your own, do not hesitate to call for medical help. 

Contacting a mental health crisis hotline, consulting with a mental health professional, or taking your loved one to the emergency room are all viable options. In the meantime, stay with your loved one until help arrives unless it compromises your safety.

Types of Treatment for a Nervous Breakdown

When coping with a mental breakdown, selecting the appropriate level of care is crucial for effective recovery. Treatment options vary based on the severity of the individual’s symptoms and their specific needs. Here’s a detailed look at the different levels of care, each structured to support varying degrees of mental health crises:

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment offers the highest level of care, with patients staying in a hospital or residential facility to receive 24/7 monitoring and support.

  • 24-hour Supervision: Constant care and monitoring to ensure safety and manage severe symptoms.
  • Structured Environment: A highly structured setting that focuses on stabilization.
  • Comprehensive Therapy: Access to various therapeutic interventions including individual therapy, group sessions, and medication management.
  • Suitable for: Individuals with severe mental health issues that pose a risk to themselves or others.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs provide a substantial level of care without the need for a 24-hour hospital stay, bridging the gap between inpatient and outpatient settings.

  • Day Treatment: Patients spend several hours per day, typically 5-7 days a week, at a treatment facility.
  • Therapeutic Activities: Includes a mix of group therapy, individual counseling, and skill-building workshops.
  • Moderate Supervision: While not as intensive as inpatient care, PHP offers more support than typical outpatient services.
  • Suitable for: Individuals who need daily treatment but are stable enough not to require round-the-clock supervision.

Learn More About PHP With New Dimensions

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs allow individuals to live at home and maintain daily routines, attending treatment sessions several days a week for a few hours each day.

  • Flexible Schedule: Designed to accommodate work or school schedules, providing treatment for a few hours daily.
  • Focused Therapy: Continuation of therapeutic practices, including group discussions, individual therapy, and relapse prevention education.
  • Support Network: Encourages building a personal support system and utilizing community resources.
  • Suitable for: Those with a stable living situation and a supportive home environment who need ongoing support but not constant supervision.

Learn More About IOP with New Dimensions

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.



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