Signs of a Mental Breakdown

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There are specific signs and symptoms to look for if concerned about someone having a mental breakdown. People may have their own awareness of symptoms or signs that can be observed by friends and family members. If symptoms are noticeable, it is advisable to seek the help of a mental health professional to address problems before a full-blown crisis or other significant impairment in functioning occurs.

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Depressive illness can range in severity from mild forms such as dysthymia to major depression. Symptoms of depression include chronic sadness, changes in sleep and appetite, loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed, frequent tearfulness, and loss of energy and motivation. Depression can affect all levels of functioning in school, work or social settings. Signs of a mental breakdown due to depression can include suicidal thoughts or gestures. In this instance, immediate help is necessary.

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Anxiety is a condition that can range from mild, generalized anxiety to severe anxiety associated with disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder or post traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, feeling on edge, difficulties concentrating, muscle tension, difficulties sleeping and easy fatigue. Signs of a mental breakdown due to anxiety can include extreme panic attacks or irritability. In this instance, prompt care is necessary.

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Mania is a condition that can range from mild forms such as cyclothymia to severe forms such as full-blown manic episodes. Symptoms of mania include inflated self-esteem, abnormally high levels of energy, or little to no sleep. Signs of a mental breakdown due to mania can include high-risk behavior such as spending large amounts of money, gambling, aggressive behavior and/or increased sexual activity. In this instance, prompt care is necessary.

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Psychosis is a condition that can occur episodically as part of other conditions or can be more chronic in illnesses such as schizophrenia. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and/or disorganized thinking and communication. These symptoms are severe and indicate a mental breakdown. Prompt care is necessary to resolve psychotic symptoms.

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Other Conditions

Other conditions that may result in a mental breakdown are post-partum depression, severe grief reactions or medical illness that causes secondary psychiatric symptoms such as Alzheimer's.


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