How to cope with a nervous breakdown

May 2012

How to cope with a nervous breakdown

Dealing with a nervous breakdown can be difficult when you’re in the midst of it, especially if you’re unaware of possible causes, outcomes and ways of coping. Usually, when we speak of the term ‘breakdown’, we’re referring to an object such as a car or computer. In a way, a nervous breakdown has similarities, as it involves an overload of information, a level of psychological malfunction, and a lack of information required for self-repair.

Symptoms of a nervous breakdown can vary from a gradual inability to function normally during everyday life, to a dramatic event such as a panic attack, hearing voices or unprovoked angry outbursts.

For many people the first signs of a nervous breakdown are an inability to follow regular sleeping patterns, physical and mental exhaustion, withdrawal from usual activities and feelings of anxiety. Other symptoms can involve flashbacks to a particular stressful event, depression, and constant thoughts about death and suicide.

Sufferers may develop a dependency on drugs and alcohol as a means of attempting to ease symptoms, although this will not help and is likely to cause further complications.

A sufferer may deny the existence of a nervous breakdown for some time. This is partly because its onset can be so gradual that symptoms are mistaken for life just being tiring and sad, and partly because there is a social stigma attached to mental health problems and people don’t like to imagine they may have them.

To deal with a nervous breakdown it is necessary to establish its cause. If, for example, a breakdown occurs due to the pressure of an unbearable workload or a demanding emotional life, such burdens need to be lifted.

Adjusting the situation so an individual feels they only have a workload and emotional issues they can manage adequately can help remove part of the pressure that is pushing them over the edge.

At other times, a nervous breakdown may be due to a major negative life change such as an unwanted divorce or redundancy. In this case, a sufferer could benefit from counselling so that they can discuss feelings of loss and fears, alongside learning self-esteem boosting exercises.

Nervous breakdowns often stem from a trigger in a suffers life. This occurs when they are already predisposed to mental ill health. There may have been no warning of this predisposition if they have never been pushed to their emotional limit before.

A trigger may be anything from a life-changing event to an event that reminds them of a past trauma and acts to bring back past fears and worries. If this happens a doctor can give them medication to help them through the worst period of upset, and counselling can help to lessen anxiety from the past.

Studies have shown a lack of vitamin B6, niacin, can also be responsible for psychological breakdown. People need certain vitamins in order to maintain good mental health. When lacking them their brain functioning can become impaired.

Sufferers of a breakdown need to be sure they have a balanced diet including B vitamins, vitamins E, D, C and A. Kelp, brewers yeast and bonemeal tablets can help also.

It is important for sufferers to have adequate emotional support from friends and family during this time too. The resulting depression caused by a nervous breakdown can make them less socially active, which lessens their ability to receive the support they need.

Reaching out to others can be hard for sufferers, especially when they are withdrawn and less confident. Scheduling time to be around other people is an important part of rehabilitation, so it can be positive for sufferers to let others know they need encouragement to remain socially active.

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