It’s not uncommon for someone to say, “I’m having a mental breakdown,” when they feel overwhelmed with daily life. But very rarely are they experiencing a breakdown in the clinical sense. And unfortunately, sayings like this can make it difficult to know what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown that requires professional treatment.
Below, we’ll discuss a few ways you can help someone struggling mentally. But first, let’s define what the term mental breakdown means.
What Is a Mental Breakdown?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that a mental breakdown is not a medical condition that any licensed physician will or should ever diagnose a person with. Secondly, it’s crucial to learn what a mental breakdown is in order for you to recognize when a person is experiencing one and know what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown.
A mental breakdown, sometimes called a nervous breakdown, is when a person is going through a period of acute psychiatric distress. This type of mental health crisis happens when a person has gone through extreme emotional, mental, or physical stress and is having a problem operating effectively. In other words, a mental breakdown is how you feel after being completely overwhelmed by life stressors.
What Causes a Mental Breakdown?
One of the most common causes of a nervous breakdown is a progressive build-up of stress. For example, a person already under tremendous pressure from work might succumb to a mental breakdown after their spouse asks for a divorce.
Other circumstances that may contribute to a nervous breakdown include:
- Significant life changes, such as death
- Financial troubles
- Chronic illnesses
- Burnout from work or school
- Not getting enough sleep
In addition to the above, individuals with underlying mental health condition, like an anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, etc., are more prone to spiraling into a mental health crisis.
This is especially true when a mental health issue has not been diagnosed. Without proper coping skills, emotions can build up until they’re uncontrollable, and those feelings can be even more frightening if you don’t know what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown.
How to Know Someone’s Having a Mental Health Crisis
It can be challenging to know what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown and you don’t know what the symptoms are. But knowing what to look for can help you spot a person in anguish and offer them a shoulder to lean on. However, because no two people are the same, the signs of a nervous breakdown vary from person to person.
But some common indications a nervous breakdown is in progress include a person:
- Lacking the motivation to participate in activities or hobbies they once enjoyed
- Frequently being absent from work
- Failing to attend scheduled appointments or social engagements
- Avoiding social interactions and isolating from friends and family
- Having mood imbalances
- Feeling depressed, anxious, or irritable
- Having frequent emotional outbursts
- Having delusions or hallucinations
- Being paranoid
- Contemplating suicide or self-harming
Experiencing a nervous breakdown can be a massive shock to your system, which means some of the above symptoms might not go away on their own. And nobody should have to suffer from the mental, emotional, or physical side effects of severe stress.
What to Do If Someone Is Having a Mental Breakdown
If someone close to you is having a mental breakdown, one of the best things you can do is be present for them and listen to their needs. And making it clear that you are there to offer support without passing judgment can also be very helpful.
Some additional ways you can show support are:
- Suggest they seek medical attention right away.
- Try out different relaxation techniques, like specific breathing techniques.
- Help them eat a balanced diet.
- Try to get them to walk outdoors for at least 30 minutes.
- Urge them to maintain connections with loved ones for support.
- Emphasize the importance of sticking to a daily schedule.
- Assist in keeping up with current treatment plans until professional help is available.
- Offer them rides to medical appointments or to pick up a prescription.
- Provide childcare support or house cleaning services, if necessary.
Another way you can help them is by researching local mental health hospitals that offer treatment options like a crisis stabilization program.
For example, the intensive treatment program at Springbrook Behavioral Hospital is designed to provide stabilization and symptom management for adults experiencing a mental health emergency. In addition, this service offers support to voluntary and involuntary patients in an acute distress who require immediate help in a secure, safe, and controlled setting.
Furthermore, Springbrook Behavioral Hospital’s residential treatment program involves patients working closely with a team of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, social workers, therapists, nurses, and other staff. Additionally, our medical team helps people identify the underlying causes of their psychological issues and learn how it impacts their ability to function.
While your loved one is in our care, we’ll teach them what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown so they can handle any that may happen in the future.
Let Springbrook Help You Reduce Your Stress
Springbrook Behavioral Hospital hopes that one day everyone knows what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown. In the meantime, we offer a variety of treatment options and around-the-clock psychiatric care for adults seeking relief from the effects of a nervous breakdown.
Our team is dedicated to providing you with the necessary resources and support to help you effectively manage stress so you can regain control of your life.