A mental breakdown is not a clinical name for any health condition. We tend to use it for people who have had a mental health episode, often also referred to as a nervous breakdown. It encompasses a wide range of conditions, including depression, anxiety disorder and more specific illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and OCD.
A mental breakdown normally occurs during a period of high stress or trauma and can be just as frightening for the person suffering the episode as it is for those around them. If you have a family or friend that is affected by a mental health breakdown there are several things you can do to help. While it can be challenging and disturbing, help from family or friends is key to those with mental health problems making a full recovery.
Recognising the Signs
Much will depend on the particular condition the person is suffering from but you will no doubt realise that something isn’t quite right. While mental health problems can seem terrible and daunting, the good news is that there is plenty of support out there, so you need not feel alone. Behaviours you might spot can include:
Offering Help and Support
People suffering from a mental breakdown will generally feel they are alone and no one understands what they are going through. It can be a terribly personal problem that they will try to hide particularly if they are embarrassed about not being able to cope.
Connecting with the individual and offering support can make all the difference to them. There is, of course, no one size fits all approach here but researching the condition they are diagnosed with can help give you a greater understanding of the mental health problem they have.
Coming up with a plan together is a good idea so that you know how the person wants to be helped and this also gives you the opportunity to make suggestions of your own. You will, of course, have to exhibit a fair degree of patience and you should try not to be judgmental or moralistic in anyway. You can also set up an emergency plan if you live together so that you both know what needs to be done if symptoms get worse or there is a problem.
Ways in which carers and friends and family help someone who has had a mental breakdown can include:
While looking after someone who has had a mental breakdown is something many friends and families do out of love and obligation, you also need to maintain your own health properly. That can include eating well and taking a break when you really need it to do the things you want to do. Joining a carers support group can help give you a vital outlet and allow you to understand your role from someone else’s perspective.
Caring for someone who has had a mental breakdown is not an easy thing to do, particularly if you are close to them. There can be periods when whatever you do doesn’t seem to make a difference. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that you can wave and make everything go away. What is important, though, is that your support is there and it is helping them get better and reach a full recovery.