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Am I Having a Nervous Breakdown

Are You Experiencing a Nervous Breakdown?

Although it appears to be increasingly falling out of the common lexicon, the term “nervous breakdown” was once used to describe any number of mental health problems that appeared to strike suddenly. Unfortunately, the term is often used loosely or casually, and sometimes, as in films and TV, for comic effect. But is there really such as thing as a nervous breakdown? Well yes, and no.

Yes – a person can indeed ‘break down’ suddenly. The human body is a fragile mechanism that, when put under too much stress, will stop functioning normally. A person exposed to long-term, unrelenting severe stress is particularly vulnerable to experiencing a ‘breakdown.’ How does a breakdown manifest itself? The primary characteristic of a breakdown usually involves some sudden disintegration of the self. This means that an individual who usually follows a set pattern of behaviors will suddenly break away from their routine. Imagine this scenario: a person wakes every morning, goes to work, seems to function normally, visits with friends as usual, and then returns home. Imagine this person suddenly waking one morning and unable to get up. They have lost their drive, their ability to function normally, to communicate with family or friends. Perhaps they are even incapable of dressing or eating. This person is experiencing a nervous breakdown.

What other types of symptoms might be described as those associated with having a nervous breakdown? Some individuals might experience the uncontrollable need to cry, loss of energy, withdrawal, confusion, despair, inability to think clearly, sleep disruption or insomnia, loss of pleasure in everyday activities, feelings of worthlessness and depression. These “down and out” feelings are characteristic of depressive disorders.

Some individuals have breakdowns that manifest symptoms of psychosis. Breakdowns involving psychosis may involve hearing voices, seeing visions, feelings of paranoia, feelings of being pursued, feeling sensations that are not really present, grandiose or delusional behavior, bizarre public behavior, feeling of jealousy, and feelings of violence.

Whatever the nature of the breakdown, all breakdowns have in common the inability to function as normal.

What is a nervous breakdown really? A person who experiences symptoms of a nervous breakdown is suffering from some sort of mental disorder. That is, despite what we used to think, a nervous breakdown in and of itself is not an illness or disease. They are merely symptomatic of a larger problem. In fact, no legitimate physician or mental health professional would ever diagnose someone as having a nervous breakdown. The characteristics of a nervous breakdown can be symptomatic of a large variety of mental illnesses. The most common illness that resembles these characteristics is a Major Depressive episode. Other disorders that are related to what we think of as a nervous breakdown include panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma disorders, acute stress disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, and mood disorders. All of these mental disorders are characteristic of what many laypeople would characterize as a nervous breakdown.

Who is most likely to suffer from a nervous breakdown? Almost anyone who is subjected to undue stress is capable of experiencing a nervous breakdown. For instance, any person who has been subjected to extreme stress and trauma is vulnerable to experiencing a disorder that mimics the general perception of a nervous breakdown. For instance, a young person returning from battle may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. A woman experiencing severe depression after the birth of her child may experience post-partum depression.

How can a person suffering any of the characteristics of a nervous breakdown get help? Sometimes the hardest part of recovery is getting the person to visit a doctor. For some kinds of mental disorders, a nervous breakdown can be a blessing in disguise. An individual suffering from severe anxiety or depression may find her self speaking to a psychotherapist for the first time. A person who suffered alone for long time may suddenly find himself getting better with medical attention. In many fortunate cases, the person who experienced the nervous breakdown may emerge from therapy stronger and healthier than ever before. Treatments can include antidepressant and psychotropic medications, psychotherapy, and prescribed periods of rest.

Prevention of nervous breakdowns is an oft-ignored subject that researchers are beginning to study. The characterization of a nervous breakdown as something that happens very suddenly can be misleading. In many cases, symptoms of the coming breakdown are present, but either the individual or their family and friends ignore them. Individuals who sense themselves becoming increasingly stressed, depressed, angry, or violent are encouraged to seek help immediately.

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Help with Addiction

Addiction is like the tail wagging the dog, or person, with the tail being a habit that dominates the person’s whole life. Addiction therapy concentrates on the tail – cutting it off in abstinence therapy, making it smaller in behavioral treatment. But the real task is for the person to build a life – body and soul – that can’t be wagged by even a very powerful tail.
Here are the five elements to effective addiction treatment and successful recovery:

1. Tapping values. Traditional treatment involves cajoling, convincing, or coercing people to quit the addiction – often by dictating to them what their values should be. Successful treatment – like motivational therapy – instead encourages people to discover personal values that will anchor them against the pull of the addiction. Sometimes these countervailing values are quite evident in people. Sometimes deep exploration is required to find and resurface them. When addicts in Moments of Clarity see their true selves in visions or in coffee cups, it simply means they’ve made contact with their own value structures. Reconnecting to their core values makes it much more likely that people will maintain their recovery.

2. Savoring rewards. To get through the immediate recovery period the person has to appreciate the benefits sobriety brings – better health, more productivity, gratitude of family and friends. People must refocus to see the deep background to their lives rather than the immediate stimulus of the addiction. Successful treatment and recovery involve learning how to focus on these rewards and to savor them.

3. Enhancing resources. People already have resources in their lives – families, skills, experiences – like the ones James Frey relied on to create a new identity as a writer after his treatment. Some people have more resources than others for this task – good educations or job skills, strong families, rich experiences in dealing with the world – resources they often seem bent on ignoring or even destroying. Others need to develop essential skills – through further education, skills training (e.g. communication skills), family therapy, etc. – to add to the solid life foundation they will need.

4. Finding meaning. People need to be motivated to proceed with their lives. This requires something more than just getting to the end of each day. It means uncovering deeper purposes in life – spiritual or altruistic or artistic or professional or family goals. Investing life with greater meaning allows people to shrug off the momentary discomforts or challenges that otherwise could drive them back to addiction.

5. Touching base. People need to recall the rewards from – and their motivations for – achieving sobriety. Research finds that it is often not the kind of therapy that matters as much as continuing contact with the client. Thus, successful treatment touches base regularly with graduates – even if only briefly and at intervals – to rekindle the spirit, the methods, and the goals of recovery.

These five key elements in successful therapy and recovery all contribute to a fulfilling, self-sustaining life. Indeed, recovery isn’t about successful therapy, or kicking a habit, or belonging to a support group. It’s about getting a life.

Causes: People may initially use alcohol, cigarettes or drugs (both illegal and prescription drugs) to help them cope with emotional problems. People with low self-esteem or anxiety disorders often use drugs or alcohol to feel more confident. Peer-pressure, boredom, escapism and relaxation are other reasons why you may become dependent. Using a substance regularly can cause a change in brain chemistry, so withdrawal symptoms -as well as a compulsive need for the substance- may occur when you try to stop. You might feel as though you cannot cope, go to work, meet friends or even get through the day without the substance.Â

Effects: As well as the physical side-effects of addiction, abuse of drugs and alcohol can cause many emotional disorders and mental health problems.

Addiction to alcohol increases your risk of epilepsy, certain cancers, pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

Nicotine raises blood pressure, increases the risk of heart disease, strokes and certain cancers and causes respiratory disease. Â

Solutions: Tackle the underlying problems that made you turn to drugs and alcohol in the first place.

Regain power; remind yourself that you are in control.

Involve your family in the recovery process and use their support.

Withdrawal from alcohol and opioids may need rehabilitation in a detoxification unit.

Write down the reasons why you want to give up.

Take up new habits like sport, reading or music.

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Therapy 247 Community

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Talking to someone about your problems can help. Sharing your problems in a discreet and anonymous way online is a good form of therapy. A problem shared is a problem halved!

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