This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudy Griffin is a licensed professional counselor in Wisconsin specializing in addictions and mental health. She provides therapy to people struggling with addictions, mental health and trauma in public health settings and in private practice. In 2011, she received her Masters in Clinical Counseling in Mental Health from Marquette University.
How To Tell If Your Having A Nervous Breakdown
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A nervous breakdown (also known as a mental breakdown) is a temporary condition characterized by reduced functioning, usually resulting from stress. A nervous breakdown can occur when the stress and demands of life exceed a person’s ability to cope. There are a number of symptoms that can tell you if you are having a nervous breakdown. If you suspect you may be having a nervous breakdown, it’s important to seek help.
This article was co-authored by Trudi Griffin, LPC, MS. Trudy Griffin is a licensed professional counselor in Wisconsin specializing in addictions and mental health. She provides therapy to people struggling with addictions, mental health and trauma in public health settings and in private practice. She received her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marquette University in 2011. This article has been viewed 101,875 times.
The content of this article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. You should always contact your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing or stopping any treatment.
Possible signs that you are having a nervous breakdown can be mental or physical. Think carefully about how you’ve been feeling over the past few days or weeks. You may find that you have had difficulty feeling happy or satisfied, or that you have had mood swings associated with irritability, depression, or euphoria. These are all normal and treatable signs of a nervous breakdown. Then check your physical condition. Nervous attacks can be accompanied by a feeling of severe physical exhaustion, digestive problems, tremors of the hands and parts of the body, and increased heart rate. Remember that each person will have different signs. If you suspect that you are having a nervous breakdown, it may be helpful to seek professional help. For tips on how to cope with a breakdown and get treatment, read on. “Nervous breakdown” is not a medical diagnosis. But this is some kind of mental or emotional health crisis. You may experience severe stress, anxiety or depression. In turn, you cannot function in everyday life. Your healthcare provider will work with you to identify stress triggers, develop a treatment plan, and help you cope.
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A “nervous breakdown” or mental health crisis refers to feeling physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelmed by the stresses of life.
We’ve all heard someone say, “I think I’m having a nervous breakdown.” Maybe you said it yourself. But what is a “nervous breakdown”? What does this really mean?
“Nerve breakdown” is a loose term sometimes used by the public or the press. It has fallen out of favor because it is not a medical term and over time has acquired a negative connotation.
“Nervous breakdown” is not a medical diagnosis. This is not the term your healthcare provider will use. It is not a specific mental state. In contrast, a mental health crisis or mental health disorder is a situation that occurs when you are under severe physical and emotional stress, have difficulty coping, and are unable to function effectively. It is the feeling of being physically, mentally and emotionally overwhelmed by the stresses of life.
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In a mental health crisis, your response to intense stress has many similarities to other illnesses. Some of the medical conditions that you and your healthcare provider may consider contributing to your mental illness include:
If you’re having a mental health crisis, you may feel like you’re losing control. An event or change in your life causes you a lot of stress, which causes symptoms such as fear, anxiety, restlessness, nervousness and depression. You may feel stuck, depressed or unable, making you unable to cope with life and function normally.
A “nervous breakdown” can be a serious health problem if you are unable to carry out daily activities due to stress and coping.
Everyone deals with stress differently. Some people handle stress better than others. However, when you can no longer perform daily tasks—getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, or going to work—it’s time to seek professional help.
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Some people may have thoughts of harming themselves. This is urgent. Call 911, go to the emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255.
The signs and symptoms of a mental health or emotional crisis vary from person to person, depending on the underlying cause.
Each person is unique, having their own “starting point” for a breakdown. There is no limit to the possible causes or combinations of causes that can lead to a “nervous breakdown” or mental health crisis.
Your health care provider may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, who are mental health professionals specially trained in emotional, behavioral, and mental health issues.
Ways You Can Help Someone Having A Nervous Breakdown
The main treatment for psychological or behavioral stress is psychotherapy (talk therapy). A widely used form of psychotherapy is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to manage intense stress and anxiety by changing the way you think, feel, and behave.
What should I do if I feel like I’m on the verge of a “nervous breakdown” or mental health crisis?
Perhaps the best thing to do if you are actively involved in a highly stressful situation is to remove yourself from that environment – if you can. Think of it as personal “time out.” Take some time to calm your mind and body.
Practice deep breathing exercises. Inhale with a full belly through the nose (with the mouth closed), hold the breath for three seconds, then slowly exhale through pursed lips (as if whistling). Repeat several times.
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If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (1.800.273.8255). You will speak with an experienced and trained consultant. This service is free and confidential and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Prevention What can I do to prevent or reduce the risk of a mental breakdown or relapse?
Many of the best self-help tips involve lifestyle changes. Although these recommendations cannot completely prevent episodes of uncontrolled stress, anxiety or depression, they can reduce the intensity and frequency of these episodes.
It may seem that your stress response, known to laymen as a nervous or mental breakdown, is a time-limited state that is usually triggered by an external event. The characteristics of your reaction to the event are probably a combination of anxiety and depression, as well as a lack of ability to adapt and cope.
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No one can say exactly how long it takes to recover from a mental and emotional crisis. Each person is different and has unique stressors and the ability to learn how to cope with them. However, if you’ve been accurately diagnosed, stressors identified, and treated appropriately, your symptoms will likely resolve within six months. The exception is if your stress is related to the loss of a loved one. In this case, recovery can be much longer.
When you feel like you can no longer cope with the stress and challenges of life in a healthy way and find it difficult to carry out normal everyday tasks, it’s time to seek help. Perhaps you are in a situation where it is impossible to handle the situation alone. Your health care provider, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you decipher your symptoms and get you the help you need.
A psychotic break is when a person loses touch with reality and experiences delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing something that isn’t there) and paranoia. A person overloaded with the stresses and challenges of life (or having a “nervous breakdown”), for the most part, does not lose touch with reality. They have lost the ability to cope with these stresses, making their daily lives difficult.
People usually use words like “nervous breakdown” or “mental breakdown” when talking about a person who cannot cope with everyday life. Although the terms are not a medical diagnosis, your feelings, reactions, and symptoms are very real. Extreme stress that causes severe mental and emotional distress that prevents you from working, playing and enjoying life is a health condition. These are not signs of personal weakness or failure. If you have these feelings and symptoms, you are not alone. Contact your healthcare provider for help.
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