What to Do If You are Having a Mental Breakdown

A mental breakdown, commonly known as a nervous breakdown, is severe emotional or mental distress. The emotional surge hinders you from carrying out activities of daily living. The term itself is not medically recognized. However, it describes many mental conditions that are triggered by stress.

When life throws unexpected curveballs, you might get the feeling that you are unable to cope. For instance, living amid a pandemic and fears concerning an impending economic turmoil are situations that can overwhelm even the best minds. It is not easy to stay away from loved ones or worry over their well-being. Such intrinsic and extrinsic surprises are called stressors.

Stressors initiate responses that are not always beneficial to your mental health. Too many stressors overwhelm your mental processes resulting in a mental shut down. How the symptoms manifest is dependant on your personality and triggers. Left unresolved, these stressors can push you to extreme reactions.

Symptoms and Triggers of a Mental Breakdown

A nervous breakdown can occur in depression, chronic anxiety, and acute stress syndrome. It triggers extreme behavior like suicide and self-harm. It also manifests as utter despair, emotional outbursts, panic attacks, and paranoia.

At the heart of a mental breakdown is a vicious stress cycle. Once you are exposed to a stressor, and your body responds, it increases your sensitivity to the stressor. It leaves you more susceptible to the next exposure. That is why intrusive memories from traumatic experiences are powerful at interfering with your healing progress.

A persistent stressor is strong enough to induce a nervous breakdown. Work-related stress, untreated chronic anxiety, and depression are just a few examples of constant triggers. A stressor's negative effect on your mental health is gradual. By the time a mental breakdown takes place, the damage has long been done.

There are ways to prevent recurrent mental breakdowns.

  1. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are excellent at keeping your emotions and thoughts from operating on overdrive.

Use the Breathing Technique to Calm Down
When that surge of emotional disturbance sets in and you begin to lose control, close your eyes and take a deep breath. After this, breath out slowly through your mouth. Repeat the same procedure until your body comes down. 


Meditation helps you access tranquility amid the distress. When stress overwhelms you, practice meditation to alleviate the pressures of living. It also enables you to regain your focus and concentration on the needful. Meditation releases endorphins, feel-good biochemicals, which enhance calmness and happiness.

Music Therapy 

Music is an excellent form of distraction. The rhythm of the beat synchronizes with your heartbeat. Choose soothing music to slow down your heart, blood flow, and breathing and enable your muscles to relax. Music also dissipates body tension formed by your body's heightened alarm from the stress response. It improves your mood, changes your trail of thought, and lightens your emotions.  

  1. Avoid Foods and Drinks with Triggers
Certain foods induce anxiety and depression, while others offer a temporary high but are addictive.

Let Go of Caffeine-Containing Food and Drinks

Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system. It increases your brain's activity heightening your alertness. However, by sustaining wakefulness, it interferes with your sleep and rest. Caffeine inhibits the adenosine molecule that stimulates sleep, and this temporarily boosts your attentiveness. However, the extended period of staying awake comes at a cost. It increases anxiety, heart, and breathing rate, increasing your mental breakdown susceptibility.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

While alcohol may help alleviate your anxiety symptoms for a short while, it prolongs and worsens the condition after its effect wears off. The same is true with drugs. Additionally, alcohol works as an emotion suppressant. By numbing your emotions, alcohol triggers the rebound effect, which increases your dependability on the beverage. High dependability raises your alcohol tolerance and turns your 'normal' into a state of intoxication.

  1. Normalize Taking Breaks
If your stressor can be avoided, by all means, stay away from it. A break is a stress reduction time. It is a period for healing, finding solutions for recurrent triggers, building your confidence, and self-evaluation. Being strong must be accompanied by practical steps. 

Make room for recharging at the end of the day. Do not leave all that suppressed emotion from frustrations, pressure, or your workload build-up inside. If possible, air out your grievances to the relevant authorities. Whatever you do, do not let your responsibilities interfere with your mental wellbeing to the point of having a meltdown.

  1. Face Your Fears
Sometimes stressors must be faced and defeated. You do not need to tame the proverbial dragon when you can muster enough courage to subdue the enemy within. Instead of letting your fears, failures, hurt, and past haunt you, face it and destroy it. Do not let fear define you.

Turn your worst nightmare into a lesson. Recognize how the experience made you stronger, wiser, and better. Do not let it rob your future. Give yourself credit for still standing. Decide to no longer become a victim of your past. You did the best you could with the resources you had.

  1. Know Your Triggers
Taking control of your life calls for an internal audit of your thoughts and emotions. Examine each mental break down. What was the cause? What were the events that led up to that moment? Why did it affect you so much? What were your prevailing thoughts before and during the breakdown? Understanding your emotional state helps you make informed decisions on the resolutions.

You will know topics to steer clear from and who to avoid. You will be able to identify emotional highs quicker. The process will also help you track your healing trajectory. Most importantly, it will help you see that your fight is not in vain.

  1. Make Room for Friends and Loved Ones
The emotional and mental distress behind a mental breakdown is impossible to handle alone. Be around loved ones who can assure you, build your confidence, and embrace you when you are falling apart. Do not suffer alone. The road to recovery requires as many helping hands as possible. Reach out to someone you can trust.

You can also find support from a group of people going through the same situation. There is always strength in numbers. Lean on each other. Let their journey strengthen you. Learn from their weaknesses and applaud their strengths. Be there when they need you too.

  1. Seek Therapy with a Licensed Therapist
If the emotional rollercoaster is taking a toll on your life and it seems impossible to regain control, perhaps it is time to see a mental specialist. It can be hard to find your bearing on the path to healing alone. A psychologist or therapist will point you in the right direction on your journey to self-discovery and healing.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you are in crisis because of mental health or substance abuse issues, New Dimensions can help.  New Dimensions provides Online Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs to adults and adolescents who reside within the State of Texas, including San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, McAllen, Odessa, Midland, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, College Station, Houston, and Beaumont.  We also have in-person treatment programs in Katy, The Woodlands, and Houston, Texas.  To learn more, visit our website at www.nddtreatment.com or call us at 1-800-685-9796.

08 February, 2021

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