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There are many variables that affect how we each respond to stress or adverse life events. Everyone has a breaking point, that moment when the cumulative effects of stress become totally overwhelming. Learn more about the signs of mental distress and what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown.
What Causes a Mental Breakdown?
A mental health crisis can occur when life events or negative experiences overwhelm the ability to manage the emotional stress. The effects of the stress can be so intense that it impairs normal daily functioning.
Each of us has a certain tolerance to stress. Things like temperament, genetics, general health, emotional maturity, and childhood experiences influence and define our resilience. A mental breakdown can occur when the feelings of distress overwhelm the ability to manage it. Some of the causes include:
- Loss of a loved one; protracted grief.
- Traumatic event.
- High stress job or profession.
- Taking on too many responsibilities.
- Ongoing physical or sexual abuse.
- Family history of mental health disorders.
- Serious or chronic health condition.
- Underlying mental health disorder.
- Serious financial problems.
- Undeveloped coping skills.
Signs of an Impending Mental Breakdown
We all deal with stress and difficulties in our own unique manner. Some people openly struggle with stress, whereas others seem to have it all under control, then suddenly break down. You may be concerned about a loved one who is under a heavy load of stress or adversity. If so, keep an eye out for these symptoms of a mental breakdown:
- Isolating behaviors.
- Lack of interest in life.
- Lack of motivation; apathy.
- Ignores personal hygiene.
- Avoiding social situations.
- Disorganized thoughts.
- Extreme signs of anxiety or irritability.
- Frequent mood swings.
- Slowed movements or speech.
- Not showing up for work for days.
- Seeming emotionally drained; emotional detachment.
- Physically exhausted for no reason.
- Memory and concentration problems.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Aggression or violent behaviors.
- Panic attacks.
- Loss of touch with reality.
- Increased substance abuse.
- Talking of suicide.
If you recognize some of these symptoms in a loved one, read on to learn about what to do if someone is having a nervous breakdown.
What to Do if Someone is Having a Nervous Breakdown?
When someone appears to be in a psychiatric crisis, it is always best to err on the side of caution. A mental breakdown puts someone in a highly vulnerable state, which may result in an impulsive act like suicide. A good starting point, if a loved one shows signs of a breakdown, is to accompany them to see a doctor.
When seeing the psychiatrist, the person will be asked several questions about the present issues that are causing the distress. The doctor is often able to discern their mental state just by this discussion. The doctor will ask about prior mental health history, substance use, and health history as well. He or she may access certain assessment tools to help arrive at a diagnosis and decide the best treatment actions.
Mental health treatment involves a blend of psychotherapy, group therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Each person’s treatment plan depends on the severity of the mental health crisis and the features of the mental health disorder. In the case of a severe mental breakdown, the doctor may recommend intensive treatment.
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Admission for a Mental Breakdown
In the event your loved one is experiencing a psychotic break or is a suicide threat, he or she may need to be admitted into psychiatric care. There are two options to consider, voluntary or involuntary admission.
When someone has become a danger to themselves or others they must be admitted to treatment. It is always best if they enter treatment of their own free will, versus being admitted forcibly. Sometimes, though, involuntary admission is required.
When someone is in crisis the family or spouse can call for help, which is called a 5150 hold. This is when the person is taken into a mental health facility, usually within a hospital setting. They will remain there for 72 hours, which allows for them to be stabilized, evaluated, and given a treatment plan. Once released to the family, they enter one of the following:
- Outpatient private practice.
- Outpatient mental health treatment centers or day programs.
- Residential mental health centers.
- Dual diagnosis treatment programs.
- Psychiatric hospitals.
What is Acute Stabilization?
The hospital setting can provide the highest level of care during a mental health crisis. A psychiatric hospital, or the psychiatric ward of a standard hospital, offers patients acute stabilization services and constant monitoring. These interventions ensure the safety of the patient, as well as others.
Acute stabilization may involve more extreme methods, such as placing them under restraints. This is only needed when the patient is exhibiting psychotic symptoms or seems to be suicidal or violent.
In some cases, there may be a need for a medical detox if drugs or alcohol are involved. Some patients are struggling with a substance use disorder that only compounds their mental health issues. During detox, the patient will be closely monitored so withdrawal symptoms can be managed.
Psychiatric Services for Mental Breakdown
In most cases, admittance to a hospital is not necessary. Instead, the loved one receives the care they need at a residential treatment center. These are private estates that provide specialized psychiatric services to guide the patient back to wellness.
Medication. There are drugs available that help manage the symptoms of the mental health disorder.
Psychotherapy. Engaging in private therapy sessions is a core treatment element of mental health care. The type of therapy used depends on the diagnosed illness and any unique features that are present.
Group therapy: Patients come together as a small group and share their own personal struggles and experiences.
Adjunctive. Adding complementary therapy, like EMDR, can help with some mental health challenges, such as trauma.
Holistic. These might include art therapy, meditation, massage, yoga, or acupuncture.
The Treatment Specialist Trusted Source for Mental Health Guidance
The Treatment Specialist is an online resource for informative articles on mental health conditions and treatment options for adults, teens, and families. If you need guidance about what to do if someone is having a mental breakdown, call our specialists. You can reach us today at (866) 644-7911.