What Are the Signs of a Mental Breakdown?

People all over the nation are constantly faced with traumatic events, accidents, and other instances that could negatively impact their mental health.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, about 26% of adults suffer from a significant mental breakdown in a given year.

As a common occurrence, it has become essential that people understand the signs of a mental breakdown, what it is, and ways to support an individual who is having one.

What is a mental breakdown?

A mental breakdown is a general term that is used to describe a situation when a person is experiencing a significant mental health crisis. These scenarios often lead the individual to have thoughts and feelings that don’t seem to be their own. 

Someone who is having a mental breakdown won’t be medically diagnosed, though they may be struggling with severe depression, anxiety, or even suicidal ideation.

These feelings can arise at any point in a person’s life when they experience high levels of stress that stem from work, school, a death in the family, divorce, or other major changes. When these emotions become too much for that individual to handle on their own, it can lead to a mental breakdown.

What does a mental breakdown look like?

When it comes to mental breakdown symptoms, these feelings and emotions can show up in a variety of ways. They usually arise after a traumatic event or an accident that caused physical or emotional harm. Some people may react to them quietly and inwardly, while others could get angry or belligerent.

The most common signs of a mental breakdown include:

  • A sense of worthlessness: Many individuals may feel that they are at fault for whatever caused the way they’re feeling, which could make them feel that their life isn’t worth anything.
  • Intense anger or outbursts: Among the most frequent symptoms of a mental breakdown, a person may yell, feel paranoid, or even become violent.
  • Depression or anxiety: Someone could feel sad or oppressed for no clear reason, which could even lead to random instances of crying.
  • No appetite: Due to their stress level, some people having a mental breakdown may forget to eat or simply won’t feel hungry.
  • Lack of pleasure: Also known as anhedonia, someone who has experienced trauma may have trouble feeling joy or happiness on a day-to-day basis.
  • Unable to focus: This can either show up as the person having short-term memory issues or simply having difficulty concentrating in general.

What to do (and not do) if someone is having a mental breakdown

If you feel that your loved one may be showing signs of a mental breakdown, there are a handful of ways you can help them. While you may feel that you can handle these struggles based on your own experience, it is a good idea to follow the proper steps to ensure your family member or friend is comforted. Otherwise, they could feel attacked or berated for the emotions they’re having and may lash out even more.

How to help someone having a mental breakdown

The most important way to assist a person who is suffering from a mental breakdown is to create a safe environment where they feel they can be heard and supported. This includes a physical space as well as an emotional connection that they’re comfortable in. Removing distractions and making sure there aren’t too many people around is a good place to start.

It is crucial that your loved one is heard and doesn’t feel judged because of the intense emotions they are having. Regardless of how they are acting, the more you can remain calm during the conversation, the more likely they will settle down and be open to help.

Another step to take once you’ve provided them with a safe space is to determine the lifestyle adjustments they can make. This could include anything from adding exercise to their routine or doing yoga. Finding ways to avoid and clear those negative thoughts will be essential to their long-term mental health.

Lastly, it is always recommended for someone who is having a mental breakdown to get professional treatment. Most of the time, it will take a good amount of time and effort to overcome these intense feelings and identify the best practices for that individual to avoid them in the future.

Things to avoid when helping with a mental breakdown

Sometimes family members and friends will feel that they know what to do or say when trying to support a loved one having a mental breakdown. While these individuals may have the best of intentions, there are a few things that shouldn’t be said or done in these situations.

When assisting someone with a mental breakdown:

  • Do not say you know how they feel
  • Do not assume you know what they’re thinking
  • Do not tell them what to do
  • Do not dismiss or negate the feelings they’re having
  • Do not accuse them of lying
  • Do not put yourself in a position where they could physically harm you

Get mental breakdown treatment

While it is vital that friends and family members provide support for a loved one who is struggling from a mental breakdown, it is even more important that they get professional treatment.

At Orange County Behavioral Health, we offer the best mental breakdown treatment for those who are suffering from these significant feelings and emotions.

Get in touch with our Orange County Behavioral Health team at 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223 today if you or a loved one are in need of professional support.

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