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How to Help Someone Having a Nervous Breakdown

If you suspect a loved one is experience high levels of stress, there are ways you can help.

Here’s how to help someone having a nervous breakdown.

How to Help Someone Having a Nervous Breakdown - chris massman.png

How to Help Someone Having a Nervous Breakdown

Over 8 million Americans suffer from significant amounts of stress that can become crippling and devastating to their state of well-being. This type of stress can trigger a nervous breakdown.

As a friend or family member of someone with a mental health disorder, you may be wondering how you can help your loved one if they experience a nervous breakdown. There are many things you can do to help them.

Know what a nervous breakdown is can be the first way you can help. It is important you be able to distinguish between a nervous breakdown and some other ailment before trying to help.

What is a Nervous Breakdown?

A nervous breakdown is the culmination of extreme stress and anxiety, as well as depression. A person can feel as if they have been trying to keep up with all their responsibilities but without success. They feel overloaded and overwhelmed with pressure to appear as if nothing is wrong.

This pressure can feel so extreme that a person can no longer function in their professional or personal lives. They may even find that simple chores like cleaning or cooking are too much to handle.

While they may feel like the nervous breakdown lasts for a long time, they are temporary. Nervous breakdowns can last for a few hours to a few weeks.

The individual may be feeling this way due to an underlying mental illness becoming unmanageable. Some of the issues that can lead to a nervous breakdown include a major life change such as divorce, death in the family or the loss of a job.

Daily issues may be contributors to a nervous breakdown as well.  These can include, being overloaded with work, taking on too many responsibilities, academic pursuits or family struggles.

Knowing the signs of a nervous breakdown will also help you figure out how to help someone.

Know the Signs of a Nervous Breakdown

If you mistake the signs of a nervous breakdown, you may not be able to properly help someone. Therefore, knowing the symptoms of a nervous breakdown is extremely important.

Reports state some signs to never to ignore include persistent negative feelings, any statements that could be tied to suicidal thoughts or ideation, and emotional outbursts.

You know your friend or loved one’s normal behavior. Anytime they veer from their normal behavior to something more extreme, this could be a sign. Furthermore, if they complain of chest pains, racing heart, sweating, nausea, headaches and other physical symptoms, take notice.

Other signs to know include missing work or school, withdrawing and isolating from friends and family, lack of hygiene and using substances like alcohol or drugs to cope with their feelings. In more severe cases, someone may hallucinate, have delusions, or even seem to detach from reality altogether.

If you recognize any of these signs, it is important you begin to help them by communicating your concerns properly.

Comforting Communication

One of the most important parts of communicating with someone who is suffering from a nervous breakdown is to let them know they are not alone. Let them know you will not leave them and will help them get the help they need.

Make sure your tone of voice and style are comforting.

Encouraging statements are key. Let them know you are confident they will get through this. Remind them how strong they are and that their feelings are temporary. Some may feel better if you pray for them or offer spiritual help.

Others may just want you to stay with them, so they are not physically alone. Give them hope with your words. Share success stories of people you know that have overcome breakdowns. Consistently reassure them that they will be okay.

Then, while using your comforting communication, assist them to seek counseling.

Seek Professional Help

Your friend or loved one needs the help of a mental health therapist. They need a trained professional who knows the exact steps in helping them overcome a nervous breakdown.

Someone having a nervous breakdown, however, will not be able to seek professional help on their own. Instead, you can make the calls for them. You can make the appointment for them. You can even attend the first therapy session with them since it is necessary for you to make sure they show up for their counseling session.

Sometimes it is not what you do, but what you do not do that is important.

Know What Not to Do

When trying to help someone who may be having a nervous breakdown, it is important you avoid making negative statements to them or about them. Never demean or condemn them or make fun of their symptoms.

Do not make them feel weak for struggling with these issues. Leaving them alone is not the best thing to do, especially in times of crisis. If you cannot stay, ask another friend or loved one to step in and support them.

Finally, do not underestimate the seriousness of a nervous breakdown.

Provide Prevention Tips

Just like everything else, prevention is the best way to help someone avoid a nervous breakdown. There are signs that start to show earlier than the actual breakdown.

If you notice someone taking on more and more responsibilities, when you know they are already overwhelmed, talk to them now, before they become even more pressured.

If you know someone who is working long hours and getting very little sleep, they could be on track for a nervous breakdown. Communicate with them as soon as you notice these risk factors.

Encourage your friend or loved one to seek treatment for any mental illnesses. Help them learn healthy coping skills and build a strong, positive support system.

In conclusion, know that nervous breakdowns can happen to any person at any time. Being aware of the signs and symptoms, proper communication, and prioritizing good health are factors to success in overcoming and preventing a nervous breakdown.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez