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What's it like: To suffer a mental health crisis

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: August 17, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 17, 2014

What is a mental health crisis?

A mental health crisis is a situation that puts people at risk of hurting themselves or others.

A crisis will be different for each person and somewhat dependent on whether that person has a mental health disorder, such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder or another chronic health condition. In some cases, a person might suffer a mental health breakdown because of the loss of a loved one or job or some other major negative life change.

What are the symptoms of a crisis?

Symptoms of a mental health crisis can include neglect of personal hygiene; dramatic change in sleep habits; weight gain or loss; decline in performance at work or school; noticeable mood changes, such as irritability, anger, anxiety or sadness; and withdrawal from routine activities and relationships.

Warning signs that a person might be suicidal include excessive sadness; sudden calmness after being depressed or moody; dangerous or self-harmful behavior such as reckless driving, having unsafe sex or abusing drugs or alcohol; giving away personal belongings and putting affairs in order; and threatening suicide.

How can friends or family help?

If your loved one is in a life-threatening situation or is seriously damaging property, calling 911 could be your best option.

A mental health crisis can be a serious medical emergency, and the person suffering can’t be helped with merely a pep talk or being told to “shape up.”

If you have a family member or friend who is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. You should try to get the person to seek help immediately from an emergency room, physician or mental health professional.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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