Differences Between a Mental Health Crisis and a Psychotic Break

Understanding the differences between a mental health crisis and a psychotic break can be instrumental in ensuring you get the right help for your situation. These are a few key differences between the two to help you determine your next steps.

Mental Health Crisis

This term typically refers to situations in which life’s demands have become physically and emotionally overwhelming. It doesn’t refer to a specific disorder and has a range of symptoms that may include any or all the following indicators:

  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue/exhaustion (both emotional and physical)
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness

A mental health crisis is a temporary situation in which you are unable to function as normal. It is not necessarily a healthy response and may indicate an underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed, like depression or anxiety.

Psychotic Break

A psychotic break is different and much more severe in nature. People experiencing psychotic breaks lose their connections with reality. These events may be triggered by any number of events or circumstances, including the following:

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Underlying mental illnesses
  • Drug use and abuse

Whether someone experiences a psychotic break or a mental health crisis, it is not likely that a person will simply snap out of it on their own. In fact, most people will not fully recover without treatment. This treatment may include ongoing medication as well as therapy.

What Happens When Someone Experiences a Mental Health Crisis?

The thing with a mental health crisis is that every person doesn’t have the exact same experience. In fact, each experience is as unique as the individual going through this challenging experience. The first sign that something is wrong is that the person experiences a sudden change in mood. This is often evidenced by an emotional or angry outburst.

Most people note having difficulty focusing on tasks and keeping their thoughts in line just prior to a mental breakdown. Some have even entertained fantasies of violence as a prelude to a mental health crisis. These thoughts and outbursts often serve as “wake-up” calls that you need to seek help.

There are also quite a few things that can trigger a mental health crisis. Common occurrences involve one or more of the following events:

  • A major life change (the loss of a job, divorce, moving to a new city, empty nest, etc.)
  • Sudden tragedies (major accident, the loss of a home, death in the family, the loss of a child, the onset of a major physical illness)
  • Anxiety
  • Financial concerns
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Abuse

For people who have experienced one or more of the issues listed above, any indicators of a mental health crisis should be taken seriously. Ideally, you will seek help before reaching the crisis point.

How to Treat a Mental Health Crisis

There are many possible treatments for people experiencing a mental health crisis. One of the most important first steps toward recovery, though, is to reduce stress wherever possible. Counseling and therapy can be instrumental for introducing coping mechanisms and discussing steps you can take to reduce the amount of stress in your life.

Additionally, many patients seeking to avoid or recover from a mental health crisis will find that medications along with psychotherapy assist greatly in the recovery process. Other steps people can take to aid in their recovery include:

  • Make lifestyle changes designed to reduce stress, such as getting quality sleep, reducing caffeine intake, and making healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Determining if a mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, could be the root cause of a mental health crisis.

Prevention is the best cure. Barring that, getting the right help quickly when a mental health crisis presents itself is the next best thing.

What to Do If You are Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

Getting help is the most important thing you can do for yourself in the midst of a mental health crisis. This will aid in a faster and more complete recovery so that you can get back to enjoying life once again.

The first step is to ask for help. Jonas Hill offers both inpatient and outpatient mental health treatment services to aid you in the recovery process. Our mission is to help you find healing through our holistic treatment process while offering a safe and secure healing space for your needs. Contact us today to begin finding your path to healing and lasting recovery.

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