Recognizing an Emotional Breakdown: Signs and Symptoms | Tips for Coping

Dr. Serenity
April 13, 2023

Identifying the Symptoms of an Emotional Breakdown

When stress begins to take a toll on someone’s professional or personal life, symptoms of an emotional breakdown may emerge. These can arise from various situations, including family trauma, excessive stress at work, or major relationship changes.

It can be difficult to address this issue or talk to someone else about it, but seeking help is crucial. Here is some information to help identify the signs and symptoms of an emotional breakdown and how to intervene effectively if needed.

Understanding Emotional Breakdowns

The term “emotional breakdown” is a commonly used phrase, but it is not an official term in clinical psychology. Instead, it is a phrase used in mainstream jargon to describe two distinct definitions.

The first definition describes an emotional breakdown as a psychological disorder. It is often used as a socially acceptable way to cover up a more serious diagnosis and avoid stigma from the public. Examples of this type of breakdown include anxiety or panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, or schizophrenia.

It’s important to note that in many cases, a major psychological disorder is not diagnosed until a complete nervous breakdown occurs, which often leads a patient to seek help in a hospital for the first time.

The second definition of an emotional breakdown is a personal meltdown of an individual who is struggling to cope with present circumstances. Symptoms of this type of breakdown can include uncontrollable weeping, withdrawal from loved ones, and an inability to connect with everyday life.

While still devastating, this type of emotional breakdown is usually more easily resolved and does not pose serious danger to an individual. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an emotional breakdown can help individuals seek help and treatment when needed.

Understanding Causes and Symptoms of a Nervous Breakdown

While nervous breakdown symptoms can vary from person to person, they typically involve a combination of physical and emotional characteristics. A common indicator of an impending breakdown is a disinterest in life, both professionally and personally.

Sleep patterns can also be disrupted, with individuals experiencing either insomnia or excessive sleep. Changes in appetite, such as binge eating or loss of appetite, are also commonly observed.

It is not uncommon for individuals suffering from mental illness to avoid seeking help due to their inability to comprehend their situation. Fear and an inability to express emotions can prevent people from seeking the appropriate treatment they need to recover.

Recognizing and Responding to Signs of a Nervous Breakdown

Signs of a nervous breakdown should never be ignored. It is rarely a circumstance where an individual just needs rest or time off. Seeking help from a mental health professional is usually necessary.

If you know someone experiencing symptoms of a nervous breakdown, the first step is to be a good listener. People often need someone to talk to about their struggles, which can help them overcome what they are feeling.

Being a good listener means being there for the person without necessarily offering advice or personal opinions on the situation. Encouraging a person to just “snap out of it” can invalidate their emotions and make them feel ashamed or guilty.

It is important to provide encouragement to someone exhibiting signs of a nervous breakdown. Recognizing their efforts in life, whether at work or in their personal relationships, can help them understand their worth and value in the world.

In severe cases, paranoid thoughts and delusions can begin to appear. If someone expresses thoughts of suicide or violence, these should always be taken seriously, and professional help should be sought immediately.

Causes of a Nervous Breakdown

People in high-stress professions are at an increased risk of experiencing a nervous breakdown. Personal issues such as a messy or lengthy divorce, the sudden death of a loved one, or other unexpected events can also trigger a breakdown.

Ignoring symptoms of an emotional breakdown can lead to larger issues, such as a serious mental disorder. It is essential to address and talk about symptoms with a trusted confidante and seek professional help if necessary.

Fear and an inability to adequately express emotions can cause a person to hide their pain and act as though everything is normal. It is important to recognize the signs of a nervous breakdown and seek help when needed to prevent further harm.

Reacting to Symptoms of a Nervous Collapse

Regardless of the underlying cause, symptoms of a nervous breakdown should not be disregarded. It is seldom a situation where an individual experiencing such symptoms simply needs some time off or to take it easy. It is typically a severe condition that an individual cannot overcome on their own with their own strength or willpower.

If you know someone who is experiencing a nervous breakdown, the first step you can take is to pledge to be a good listener. At times, individuals require someone to share their pain with; this can aid in overcoming what they are feeling.

Being a listener means simply that – you don’t necessarily have to offer advice or your thoughts on the situation. Nobody is expecting you to have the qualifications of a professional mental health counselor, and you should avoid attempting to do so.

Encouraging a fragile individual to simply “snap out of it” may result in more harm. This can invalidate their emotions and compel them to feel ashamed or guilty about their present circumstances.

Secondly, someone exhibiting symptoms of a nervous breakdown may require motivation. Recognizing their significant contributions to life – be it at work or with their partner and children – can assist them in comprehending their value and worth in a world where they feel worthless.

Having someone outside looking in can assist in realigning their perspective and instilling a renewed sense of purpose in a world otherwise filled with pain.

Lastly, an intervention may be necessary. If they are contemplating suicide, go directly to this step, as such words should never be disregarded. Call 911 or contact a medical professional right away.

If your friend or loved one is willing to seek treatment for an emotional breakdown by going to the hospital, do not leave them alone. Offer to accompany and support them.

You will need to be strong for this individual, and you can be the intermediary between despair and proper treatment.

Confidentiality is critical when assisting someone who is experiencing a nervous breakdown. Remember that the struggle is not your news to share, and it is essential to remain non-judgmental and exercise self-restraint.

If you believe you cannot do this, seek someone who can, and never leave a broken individual alone during a crisis.

Fortunately, after the root issue is resolved, many people can bounce back from an emotional breakdown. This may necessitate a change of circumstances or counseling and psychotropic medication.

There are numerous options and resources available for those who are suffering spiritually and emotionally; they simply need to locate them. Never be hesitant to express your concern for a friend or family member, as your commitment and selflessness may even save a life.

Author Dr. Serenity

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