What is a Mental Breakdown & When to Seek Help

December 17, 2021 5:15 pm

says Kevin Curtis, MD, director of crisis services at the University of Utah Health Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI).

Meaning of mental breakdown

Describing the symptoms of a mental breakdown, Curtis says, is very subjective. “People have their own indicators of a mental breakdown or an emotional breakdown; it’s the point where we feel we can no longer handle things. If we are cars, a mental breakdown is a full blown tire that puts us on the side of the road.”

According to Curtis, the signs of a nervous breakdown are the same as those of a mental breakdown, although they can potentially involve more anxiety. “Whether your meltdown is, ‘I’m so depressed I don’t want to do anything’ or if your nervous breakdown symptoms are anxiety-based, with panic attacks that limit your ability to do anything, it’s functional similar.”

“Sometimes having a definition that isn’t appropriately broad becomes a barrier to us getting the help we need or doing something about it, because we tell ourselves our problems aren’t that bad,” Curtis says. “In fact, we train our staff in the idea that you don’t know the crisis to the patient – the patient knows the crisis themselves.”

If you experience an immediate mental health crisis, you can turn to a hospital, such as HMHI, for around-the-clock dedicated care to get you back on your feet.

Maintenance = the best mental help

“In the world of mental health, we are trying to create more awareness within the community, that care is not focused on breakdown. It is focused on avoiding breakdown,” Curtis notes. “If we expect our cars to run forever and ever, without maintenance, and have no problems, how often will we find ourselves idle? However, we are completely disconnected from the routine needs of our emotional well-being.”

The best way to avoid a breakdown is maintenance. “We all need that, but there’s something about mental health, whether it’s anxiety or depression or something else, that we somehow think isn’t worth getting help for, or it’s not bad enough to ask for help until it becomes completely exhausting. “It doesn’t work at all,” Curtis says.

Curtis details that maintenance includes balance. “You have your social life; work life; home and family responsibilities. Each of these unique areas can start to show signs of stress. So, look at them and ask yourself, Am I feeling emotionally exhausted? Did I start thinking, ‘How long can I keep doing this?’ Then know that this is the time to get support.”

What is good for mental health?

Curtis endorses exercise for mental health, stating that it’s a way to value ourselves. “I take advantage of daily exercise to manage my depression and anxiety, and exercise probably isn’t what works for everyone, but when we are purposeful about how we take care of our bodies and what we put in our bodies, we also care about our minds and our emotions.”

For more options, you can do an online search for the terms “mental health help near me”, “helplines for depression”; “Mental Health Helpline”; or “Healer Hotlines”. You can also visit the Community Crisis Intervention and Support Services page at U of U Health for more details.

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