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How to Help Your Loved One Suffering a Mental Breakdown

by David Peta

Seeing a loved one in a state of distress, particularly with respect to a nervous breakdown, is probably one of the most difficult things you can endure. But with the right tools at your disposal, you needn't be a helpless bystander. In fact, your knowledge of your loved one equips you to play an important role in his recovery -- but it won't be easy and it requires support, dedication and a great deal of patience.

Persuade your loved one to seek medical help immediately, whether this entails making an appointment with a doctor or a therapist. Show him your actions are motivated by love and concern; if he refuses to acknowledge the need for help, appeal to other members of the family to help make him understand.

Join a depression support group in your area as soon as your loved one has accepted he has a problem. Show support for him to attend alone or, if permitted, go with him. Realize there are many other people in the same situation and groups often provide a lifeline for people who have had a mental breakdown.

Express yourself in a calm, sensitive manner. Don't avoid communication with your loved one because you fear the consequences. Say what needs said, regarding his condition or the effect it is having on the family. Avoid being purposefully aggressive or curt when you do so.

Monitor your own mental health closely -- when loved ones have a mental breakdown, the effect on the rest of the family is inevitably negative and sometimes devastating. Control your emotions without suppressing them. Watch closely for signs of depression in yourself, so you are better equipped to help your loved one.

Encourage your loved one to do some form of physical activity, even if this just entails walking a short distance every day. The key to recovery is to avoid too much introspection and look outward for mental stimulation. Opening a gym membership or keeping in touch with fellow members of a depression support group is often invaluable.

Tip

  • Keep a daily diary of how you feel -- this helps you clarify your thoughts and keep them focused. It also allows you to monitor your loved one's progress in a more scientific fashion.

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