What Causes a Mental Breakdown? Signs, Symptoms, & Recovery

More than one out of every four adults may experience a mental breakdown during their lifetime. These emotional experiences can be very difficult to manage, often leading to severely negative thoughts.

In this guide, we’ll share more about what causes a mental breakdown and how to help someone who is struggling.

What is a Mental Breakdown?

The term mental breakdown is often used when a person has a mental health crisis that overcomes their emotions. It can stem from other conditions like depression and anxiety but tends to be a severe case. In some instances, a mental breakdown may lead an individual into other types of mental health conditions such as self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Also commonly known as a nervous breakdown, mental breakdowns are not generally considered to have a medical diagnosis. The phrase is simply used to describe a situation when certain symptoms arise in a person’s mental health.

The most common signs someone is having a mental breakdown are:

  • Hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Sense of worthlessness
  • Unable to sleep
  • Lacking appetite
  • Inability to focus
  • Severe disappointment with their life

Mental Breakdown Causes

As many as 26% of adults could experience a mental breakdown at some point during their life. These intense emotions could be triggered by a wide variety of life events, experiences, or traumas.

What causes a mental breakdown? The most common reasons someone may have a mental breakdown include:

  • Major life changes: This could be anything from getting married or having a baby to leaving for college, going through a divorce, or moving to a new city.
  • Experiencing a tragedy: Some common tragedies that could lead to mental breakdowns are losing a loved one, getting into a car accident, or being physically abused.
  • Depression/Anxiety: Major depression or anxiety that isn’t treated may eventually result in a mental breakdown.
  • Stress at work or home: Also known as “burnout”, a person may get overwhelmed by the circumstances of their home or professional life.
  • Not enough sleep: A lack of sleep can have many negative effects on a person’s mental wellbeing.

Risk Factors that Could Lead to a Mental Breakdown

While they may be similar to the causes above, there are some specific risk factors to consider regarding mental breakdowns.

An individual who has a personal or family history of depression or anxiety could be more prone to having a nervous breakdown. This could be from a genetic condition or from seeing a loved one go through the same experience at some point during their life.

Other risk factors include long-term illnesses or injuries that cause everyday life to be more difficult to manage on their own.

How to Reduce the Risk of a Mental Breakdown

While handling any mental health condition can be difficult, there are plenty of ways a person can avoid a mental breakdown.

Avoid Alcohol & Drugs

These substances, along with caffeine, often add undue stress on the body and lead to hyperactive thoughts.

Exercise Regularly

Working up a sweat a minimum of three times a week is one of the best ways to promote mental wellness as well as physical health.

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Along with exercise, eating nutritious food is a significant part of keeping the brain and body healthy.

Use Relaxation Tactics

The best types of relaxation techniques include yoga, breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, and more.

Try Out New Hobbies

Whether it’s woodworking, learning a musical instrument, or some other hobby, these practices are great ways to find joy in life.

Getting Treatment for a Mental Breakdown

If you or a loved one you care about is struggling with a mental breakdown, there is help available. Here at Orange County Behavioral Health, we offer the most beneficial and professional treatment for mental breakdowns in the area.

Get in touch with our reputable team today by calling 949-900-8426 or 877-467-2223.

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