How to Recognize a Mental Health Crisis

How to Recognize a Mental Health Crisis

Did you know that around 50% of American adults will suffer from a mental health crisis at some point during their lifetime? We all face daily stressors that may build up to trigger a mental health crisis. It is important to recognize warning signs of worsening mental health before we break down.

Defining a Mental Health Crisis

Although “nervous breakdown” is not a clinical diagnosis, it gets across the severity of a mental health problem. A person experiencing a nervous breakdown may feel overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, or depression to the point that they become unable to function normally. 

Sometimes people going through a mental health crisis feel that life is out of control and nothing anyone can do will help. Consequently, negative emotions such as fear, nervousness, and depression settle in. They feel stuck, incapacitated, and unable to get through the days without a mental or emotional block. 

There are many warning signs and symptoms of an impending mental health crisis. These can include self-isolation, disassociation from reality, extreme mood swings, panic attacks, lethargy, aggressive or violent tendencies, self-harm behaviors, paranoia, or hallucinations. Recognizing these symptoms means it’s time to take action.

Causes of a Mental Health Crisis

A nervous breakdown can come on suddenly or be a long time coming. They may be triggered by trauma, chronic depression, or substance addiction. However, there can also be deeper root causes in genetics, undiagnosed conditions, or psychiatric disorders. For example, women can be influenced by hormonal changes that trigger a psychiatric response.

Situational or environmental factors may also serve as triggers. For example, severe personal tragedies, such as the death of a loved one or great financial loss, can derail a person’s emotional well-being. Work-related stress and burnout may also lead to the worsening of mental health. Again, circumstances leading to a mental health crisis could be chronic or acute, and both can be equally devastating.

Treating Acute Mental Illnesses

Among the many methods of treating acute mental health disorders, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common. A professionally trained therapist will focus on helping a person feel safe while coaching them through ways to manage stress and anxiety. 

Working with a cognitive-behavioral therapist involves several steps. First, clients will be asked to describe their symptoms and how they feel in general. Second, the therapist will ask questions to discover the root causes of these stressors. They will also observe how the client typically responds to stress. 

After a few sessions of exploration and evaluation, the therapist will teach the client how to recognize, evaluate, and correct negative thought patterns to achieve better mental and behavioral states. Lastly, they equip the client with stress management skills and coping skills. Sometimes, the therapist may also prescribe medication if they deem it necessary.

Treating Self-Harm Behaviors During a Mental Health Crisis

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) may better serve those whose mental health crisis manifests in self-harm behaviors. A trained dialectical behavior therapist will guide a person to seek and achieve a balance between conflicted thought patterns and opposing forces. This treatment progresses from acceptance of distress to identifying unhealthy behaviors to finding a balance between acceptance and change.

DBT can be combined with other emotional regulation exercises, such as mindfulness meditation, CBT, and group therapy. Therapists who use DBT are trained in conflict resolution, coping with volatile emotions, and assertive communication. 

Preventing a Nervous Breakdown Through Self-Care

Even though many stressors are a natural part of life and, therefore, hard to avoid, the best way to prevent a nervous breakdown is to incorporate effective and consistent self-care in daily life. Self-care is the regular maintenance of a human system, including the body and the mind. 

To some people, such as busy working professionals, self-care may mean taking a personal retreat or giving themselves time to unwind. Some may need help getting finances in order or learning better nutritional habits. Others may need to start seeing a therapist for persistent mental health needs.

Supporting a Loved One Through a Mental Health Crisis

Those with a loved one going through a mental health crisis can find many ways to support them. They can provide a listening ear and empathize with the individual in crisis. At the same time, they may need some space and alone time, and that’s okay too. Providing them with options can help them regain a sense of control.

Stay away from arguments with this person. A mental health crisis requires calm. This person’s loved ones should avoid judgmental comments and understand that their behaviors during the crisis do not represent who they are. 

Loved ones can ensure the other person does not turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. If thoughts of self-harm are a concern, the best choice is to encourage treatment. In an emergency, loved ones may need to transport the individual in crisis for medical attention or even hospitalization. 

Following a crisis intervention, loved ones may also need to support the individual’s continuous recovery. This may include reminding them to take medications and keep follow-up appointments. To prevent a similar mental health crisis from happening again, the individual will need a plan with resources.

Are you worried about a loved one going through treatment for a crisis? A full-blown mental health crisis can be debilitating. Do you know how to prevent it from happening? It takes a team to cope with a nervous breakdown like this. Laguna Shores Recovery’s mental health specialists can work with you. At Laguna Shores, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff can help you achieve long-term and sustainable wellness. We have helped many recovering individuals learn coping mechanisms in different phases of life. Our recovery experts will walk alongside you to offer continuous support and guidance. For more information, call our team of experts at (866) 774-1532 today.