Nervous breakdown: what to do?

The term nervous breakdown is colloquially used to describe a psychologically extremely stressful situation. It is most likely to be equated with an acute stress reaction. A nervous breakdown can be characterized by symptoms such as strong crying and tremors, but also by absence and apathy. We will inform you how to treat a nervous breakdown and what prevention options are available.

What is a nervous breakdown?

A nervous breakdown can be triggered by a psychologically extremely stressful situation for which the person concerned has no suitable coping strategy. As a result, the body is overloaded and it comes to collapse. This can also be associated with other mental illnesses such as a burnout or an anxiety disorder.

Stress responses, often triggered by bad events, make a distinction between acute and post-traumatic stress disorder. While an acute stress response usually does not need to be treated, in any case a medical consultation is required in persons with a post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stress as a cause

In a nervous breakdown, the body is previously stressed by high mental stress. Possible triggers are for example:

  • an accident
  • a violent crime
  • the loss of a close person
  • a professional or private particularly stressful life phase

Especially when psychological pressure continues to increase over a longer period of time, a nervous breakdown can occur.

It is often mistakenly assumed that damage to the nerves is the result of a nervous breakdown. However, this is not the case, there is no physical damage. However, physical symptoms can occur as part of a nervous breakdown.

Signs of a nervous breakdown

Typical signs of a nervous breakdown are tremors as well as strong crying or cramping. These symptoms may or may not occur at the beginning of the collapse. Often, these symptoms are accompanied by vegetative reactions such as sweating, nausea and heart palpitations or tachycardia. It can also cause headaches, nervousness and restlessness.

People who suffer a nervous breakdown often feel depressed and powerless. In addition, depressive moods can occur. If the nervous breakdown occurs after a bad experience, emotions such as sadness or anger can also be observed among those affected.

Often a nervous breakdown is accompanied by a sense of helplessness and emptiness. Those affected believe they can no longer cope with their everyday lives. They respond to this situation as stupefied and perform seemingly meaningless actions. Often they also feel that they are no longer themselves or experience life through a filter.

Nervous breakdown - what to do?

A stress reaction like a nervous breakdown can last between a few hours and a few days. However, it is also possible that the condition persists for a few weeks - however, after a period of four weeks, it should be checked whether a post-traumatic stress disorder exists. For example, it is more common in soldiers involved in combat missions in war.

How and if a nervous breakdown should be treated, you should either decide yourself or if necessary together with your family doctor. It is important that you treat yourself to sufficient rest and for the time being avoid further stressful situations. If the nervous breakdown is triggered by persistent personal or occupational stress, you should consider your life circumstances. This is the only way to prevent further health problems.

To treat a nervous breakdown

To calm her nerves, you can resort to herbal sedatives from the pharmacy. Well suited are, among other things, remedies with valerian or hops. But also enough sleep can be helpful. At bedtime, a sleeping or nerve tea can provide extra relaxation.

In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe tranquilizers (tranquillizers). Most of these are active substances from the group of benzodiazepines, such as diazepam, alprazolam or lorazepam. They have an anxiety-relieving and calming effect and also ensure that the muscles relax.

However, these agents can make addictive - in part, this side effect can occur even with a short-term intake. That's why you should only take such medications when absolutely necessary.

Seek medical help

If the symptoms persist for a long time, a doctor's visit is definitely recommended. Your doctor can rule out that your condition is based on a physical condition. He will probably do some standard tests like a blood count or ECG and measure your blood pressure.

If everything is okay physically, you should think about whether a visit to the psychologist may make sense. This is especially recommended if you have been suffering from symptoms such as fatigue and depressed mood for some time.

3 tips to prevent a nervous breakdown

A nervous breakdown can not be prevented in every case. Bad events that are psychologically burdensome, can usually not be foreseen. However, if the load is the result of persistent stress, consider the following tips:

  • Work or personal shorter: Reduce your load, at least for a short time, to recharge your batteries. Even in the long term, you should rethink your lifestyle.
  • Give yourself some relaxation: Build targeted relaxation phases in your everyday life, in which you pursue things that give you pleasure.
  • Keep moving: Sport is not only healthy, but can also make you happy. For example, when you're jogging, endorphins, also known as happiness hormones, are released. The best thing to do is to go outside in the fresh air in good weather, which makes you twice as happy.
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