Nervous Breakdown: Prevention and Rehabilitation
Nervous breakdown is a mental and emotional collapse that results from too much stress. It can be triggered by a certain tragic event – say the death of a loved one or sexual abuse. However, it can also be a result of accumulated stress (and others that accompany stress such as frustration, anxiety or even fear); constant and prolonged exposure to a lot of stress can erode a person’s resistance to stress, and he may ultimately succumb to a nervous breakdown.
Some people are more likely to have a nervous breakdown than other people. Even if you have two people who have to deal with a comparable amount of stress everyday, a nervous breakdown cannot be certain in both cases; one may have a nervous breakdown, while the other may continue functioning normally. Family history, childhood and past experiences, genes, and biological factors all have an effect on a person’s likelihood of undergoing a nervous breakdown.
Of course, this is not to say that someone who is predisposed to the condition will certainly develop the condition. Someone who is, by all indications, extremely susceptible to a nervous breakdown may still go through life unscathed. In the same way, someone who has no such predisposition may still be afflicted.
In short, we can not be sure whether we will suffer from a nervous breakdown or not. However, we can remain vigilant so we can see it coming and thus prevent its onset.
How to Prevent a Nervous Breakdown
An impending nervous breakdown is difficult to recognize. Superficially, a person on the brink of a breakdown may appear normal; he looks, behaves and functions normally although there should be little clues that most people don’t take seriously. As such, most people think nervous breakdowns are sudden. Nervous breakdowns are actually gradual. The ‘sudden onset’ that we see is actually the final stage of breakdown. Before the obvious breakdown, the person was gradually developing the condition. This means that a nervous breakdown can be stopped even if it has already begun; this can be done with the help of a counselor, a therapist, a psychologist, or a psychiatrist.
Nervous breakdowns can be prevented. The key to prevention lies in stress management.
When you are under so much stress and you can feel yourself snapping under all the pressure, do not panic. Instead, you should sit down, close your eyes and take deep breaths. Accept the fact that you are feeling besieged; cry and rage if you must. This way, you will be able to let your negative feelings out so they do not accumulate and push you over the edge.
After you have acknowledged your emotional state and have been able to express your anxiety or frustration, you should focus your thoughts on ‘solutions’ rather than on the ‘problems’ that are stressing you out. Perhaps you have lost your job. That probably hit you very hard, and you definitely deserve a good cry and time to feel sorry for yourself. However, you should never get stuck in the ‘self-pitying’ stage.
Instead of thinking about your problems, what-could-have-been’s and what-if’s, you can start thinking about the steps you will take to resolve your problem. By thinking positive and constructive thoughts, your reason will gain supremacy over your negative feelings and you are much less likely to have a nervous breakdown.
You should also give yourself a cheering little talk; better yet, let others do it for you. Go out and have fun with friends. You should be optimistic about your future. The trick is in looking for the ‘silver lining’. Using the above example, it is indeed a bad thing to lose your job. However, you have a choice on how you will interpret this event. You can take this as a bad blow to your self esteem or as a sign of rejection, in which case you’ll be setting yourself up for a nervous breakdown. You can, however, take this event as a signal that bigger and better things are waiting for you and thus see an opportunity – and that’s no longer so bad is it?
Of course, the next step is taking action. Only action will reinforce your positive outlook; without it, your optimism will feel hollow and become unsustainable. Thus, whatever solution you have thought about, you must put into action as soon as possible.
Recovering from a Nervous Breakdown
Recovering from a nervous breakdown entails regaining functions that were lost. The following tips help in the recovery or rehabilitation process.
Eat nutritious foods. A person who has had a nervous breakdown has a body that has been ravaged by his condition. The first order of business, therefore, is to restore the patient’s physical health. To this end, he must be given nutritious foods.
Get enough sleep. A nervous breakdown can deplete a person’s energy and make him feel exhausted; some of the manifestations of a nervous breakdown, if you will recall, is restlessness and sleeplessness. Therefore, someone who is recovering from a nervous breakdown requires all the sleep that he can get.
Learn how to cope with stress. It is important that a person who is recovering from a nervous breakdown be taught the positive and productive ways of coping with stress. He should be taught about breathing techniques and relaxation techniques that will help minimize the effect of stress and thus prevent the recurrence of the nervous breakdown.
Learn how to express feelings. Some people who have a nervous breakdown are those who suppressed their feelings once too often. People who keep things bottled up are much more likely to snap. Therefore, those who are recovering from a nervous breakdown must also be taught non-destructive ways of expressing their negative feelings.
Get support from family and friends. The support of family and friends is crucial if a person is to recover fully from his nervous breakdown. If family members and friends are supportive, a person who is recovering from a nervous breakdown will have someone to tell whenever he is feeling down, frustrated or experiencing any of the negative feelings that can ultimately lead to a breakdown. By talking about his feelings, he will have not only an outlet for his feelings but also people who can give him advice and help him cope.