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How to Help Someone Having a Mental Breakdown

How to Help Someone Having a Mental Breakdown

It is important to understand what is a mental breakdown and what causes the condition. Information and awareness are the keys to helping someone having a breakdown...
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2018
The term mental breakdown is usually used to describe someone experiencing high distress and anxiety. This, however, is not a clinical term and doesn't encompass the wide range of psychological and physical changes a person undergoes when having an episode. Mental health professionals believe that making a few lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping people who suffer from mental breakdowns. People who have undergone a traumatic emotional event like the passing away of a family member are overly susceptible to mental breakdowns.
Psychiatrists say that a mental breakdown is a symptom of some underlying psychological condition like stress or depression. Some people who undergo a nervous breakdown sometimes don't show any outward signs of distress, while others are visibly upset and at times can display violent behavior. If you are trying to help someone deal with their emotional breakdown, it is also important to understand your limitations.
The term mental breakdown or nervous breakdown is used very callously today for describing anyone who panics. In reality, however, a mental breakdown is when a person slowly or suddenly stops participating in day-to-day activities of life. People having a mental breakdown often entertain ideas of self harm and attempt suicide. Sometimes the breakdown can be of a violent nature and the violence can be directed towards society or people they know. People who have undergone a mental breakdown reveal that they get overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. They also say that they lose the will to live and feel let down by their friends and family. They cut themselves off from people and this adds to the feeling of isolation. Some of the other symptoms of emotional breakdown are exhaustion, crying, and headaches.
Causes
Healthcare professionals say that it is mostly caused due underlying psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, etc. However, one of the most common cause of a mental breakdown is stress. A mental breakdown may also be triggered by tragic events in the life of the person, like separation from a spouse or partner. Sudden death of a family member is also one of the common causes of a breakdown. Financial problem is another major cause of breakdowns in many adults. Office work related stress is another common cause of breakdowns.
Helping People with Mental Breakdown
If you see someone in high emotional distress it is advisable that you create a safe surrounding for them. The safety is not restricted to physical safety but also emotional safety as the individual is going through turbulent emotions. If you feel that you will not be able to control or maintain a safe space, it is advisable to call for professional help.
A person who undergoes a breakdown will benefit if you listen to them in a non-judgmental and non advisory way. This will give them an opportunity to open up and feel that they are being really heard. If at any point you feel that you cannot handle them you should get them to consult a healthcare professional. It is also advisable to get them to a mental health clinic for some expert care.
If you know someone who is going through situations like losing a job, failing in school, or dealing with long-term illness, talk to them let them know support is available. There are support groups for such problems; get the person connected to one of these groups. Meditation and other stress busting activities like yoga have been known to be helpful for people susceptible to mental breakdown.
Another tip is to get them involved in physical activity like exercise and sports. These activities are known to release endorphins in the brain which have analgesic properties. However, the most useful thing that you could do to help someone having a mental breakdown is to show that you care.
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