How to Cope When a Loved One Has a Mental Breakdown

Creative Ignition (2012) Sitting at the desk. Creative Commons

Creative Ignition (2012) Sitting at the desk. Creative Commons

You may face having to cope with the aftermath of someone you love who has had a mental breakdown - sometimes referred to as a nervous breakdown. Sometimes mental breakdowns can be as serious as a psychotic breakdown where the sufferer may see or hear things that are not there. When someone has a nervous breakdown, it is usually a cry for help and a sign that this person has reached their emotional limit.

The term nervous breakdown is not a clinical diagnosis; however a nervous breakdown is a term used to describe someone’s life as unmanageable. The first thing to do is to contact the mental health crisis team or advice line in your area. If that fails then contact the emergency department at the hospital and the staff should be able to point you in the right direction. They will probably ask questions over the phone and may advise you to bring your loved one to the hospital.

Describe exactly what has happened to the staff on the phone as the hospital or mental health team will need as much information as possible to make a decision on how to treat this situation. If your loved one feels they can talk to the staff, then this is preferable, as a mental health specialist can often assess the situation over the phone and then advise you and your loved one on what steps to take next.

You may need to over everything again when you get to the hospital or mental health ward as staff change shifts and information can get left out. Be prepared to explain the situation a few times to hospital staff as your loved one my be seen by several different staff and doctors. Usually when a mental health crisis case comes into the emergency department of a hospital, a psychiatrist or mental health counselor is called in to assess the patient.

They will want to know if your loved one has threatened suicide or is talking about death and they will need as much detail on the person’s health history and family medical history as possible. Make sure you give staff all the details of everything that happened when your loved one broke down. Tell them everything he or she said, even if it did not make sense.

The most important thing here is that the doctors needs all this information to be able to arrive at a definitive diagnosis. Your loved one will be asked some of the following questions:

  • Is your loved one depressed or anxious, do they seem erratic and unstable?
  • Is he or she really depressed or do they seem to be euphoric or on a high, without having taken any mind altering drugs.
  • Are they talking nonsense or seeing and hearing things that are not real?
  • Do they seem delusional; do they believe things that are simply not possible or are they feeling as though everyone is out to get them?
  • Are you worried they may hurt themselves or others? Are you seeing any signs of violence or are they talking about suicide and death?

If you can clearly see that something is not right with you loved one, then it is imperative that you get on the phone and make some calls to get help. The mental health department in your local hospital should be able to advise you. You need to get a diagnosis and arrange for your loved one to receive treatment as soon as possible.

If things seem as though they are a crisis point you may need to call a mental health crisis team to come to the house to assess your loved one. If this is not an option where you live, then you should call an ambulance. If your loved one refuses treatment then you may even need the police to come, especially of your loved is showing signs of violence. Keep in mind that your loved is probably very scared and may not even be aware of all that is going on around him or her, remember to show compassion and empathy toward them.

A hospital stay could be needed depending on the circumstances and your loved ones overall mental and physical state. They might have injuries that need treatment or mental health personnel within the hospital may simply just want to observe him or her. This could happen if there is no bed available in a mental health ward. The first thing they will do is put your loved one on some type of medication to stabilize their symptoms. Once your loved on is stable, they can begin therapy to assess what happened and what can be done.

In most cases if the patient is stable, they are sent home with referrals to psychiatrists and counselors. They may be on certain medication and it is very important that they take their medication as it can be dangerous for their health if they do not take the medicine. Certain mental health drugs are effective; however drugs alone will not help your loved one. You need to ensure that he or she complies with their counseling and therapy regime if they are to make a full recovery.

Once the doctors have carried out their assessments and organized medications and treatments, it is important that you stay close to them and give them as much support as necessary. The stigmas attached to mental health are not going away anytime soon and your loved one will be worried about what people are going to think of what has happened. Ensure that you protect their privacy by not giving out unnecessary information about your loved one. If other people are firing a million questions at you, tell them to go visit your loved one. This is one crisis that happens to some of us where we do find who our real friends are.

Encourage other family members and their friends to spend time with them; however if you find that certain people are putting your loved one down, then perhaps it would be better to keep them out of his or her life for now. Show your loved one that you are on their side, no matter what and that you are committed to seeing that they get well as soon as possible.

Copyright © 2013 Whitney Rose

Source: Coping with a Mental Breakdown