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What Is a Mental Health Crisis?

A mental health crisis is a severe and debilitating event. When people experience a mental health crisis, they often need the help of emergency mental health professionals to prevent them from harming themselves or others. Mental health crises can be prevented, provided people seek out treatment for underlying mental health conditions.

Understanding a Mental Health Crisis

A mental health crisis is any situation where the person experiencing the crisis is at risk of harming themselves or others, is unable to care for themselves, or experiences significant difficulty functioning within their community. These events are often colloquially referred to as “mental breakdowns.”

While these events are more common among people with pre-existing mental health concerns, they can happen to anyone. Any number of factors can contribute to experiencing a mental health crisis, including:

  • Exposure to violence or trauma
  • Conflicts with friends or family
  • Changes in relationships, such as breaking up with a partner or spouse
  • Intense stress at work or school
  • Discrimination
  • Legal challenges, such as a pending court date
  • New medications
  • Substance misuse

These stressful situations can lead anyone to the point of crisis, regardless of a mental health diagnosis. But when they occur, it is important to seek out professional help in order to uncover whether there could be underlying factors that make you or your loved ones more prone to mental health crises in the future.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

Learning the warning signs of a mental health crisis before one occurs can help you to prevent the situation from getting worse and prepare you for taking action. Common mental breakdown symptoms that could indicate a crisis is developing include:

  • Sudden agitation, including threats or violent outbursts
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis, or losing touch with reality
  • Appearing confused or having strange ideas
  • Self-harm
  • Inability to perform daily tasks

These warning signs can happen nearly all at once, or they can build slowly over days. Recognising the severity of symptoms and how long they’ve been occurring can be important information to communicate with a mental health professional.

When these signs begin to appear, it’s important to take action for yourself or your loved one in order to get them the help they need. Seeking help as quickly as possible can prevent a mental health crisis from progressing and help you or your loved one get back to feeling your best.

How to Deal With Mental Health Crises

Whether you are experiencing a mental health crisis or you’re a friend or family member of someone who is, there are several resources available to help.

For Yourself

When you are in crisis yourself, the best thing you can do is to contact emergency mental health services. The NHS has a dedicated mental health helpline locator, which provides 24/7 support from mental health professionals to help you through this extremely difficult situation.

This service is completely free and is designed for people of all ages in England. Crisis counsellors can help support you through this difficult time and work with you to find emergency services if required.

Don’t simply try to wait out your mental health symptoms or assume that you’ll feel better soon. Taking action now can help you avoid lasting consequences and start you on the path to recovery to last a lifetime.

For Friends and Family Members

Friends and family members are often unprepared for a loved one’s mental health crisis and are left not knowing what to do. Following a few simple steps can help you comfort your loved one in their time of need and guide them toward effective mental health treatment.

The same mental health helpline locator listed above is available 24/7 for friends and family members. This is the fastest way to get professional mental health support and get connected with experts who know how to deal with crises.

When speaking to a professional about your loved one in crisis, stick to specific descriptions of their behaviour. Rather than saying, “My brother is acting strange,” tell the professionals information such as, “My brother believes that he is being surveilled, he hasn’t slept in three days, and he is saying that he may hurt himself.”

A few other tips can help you in de-escalating the situation. These include:

  • Keeping your voice and tone calm
  • Listen to your loved one and how they describe their symptoms and concerns
  • Ask them how you can help
  • Don’t overreact
  • Give your loved one space; don’t crowd them, pressure them, or make them feel trapped
  • Announce your intentions before acting on them
  • Don’t try to argue or reason with the person in crisis
  • Express your concern and show your support

These tips alone typically won’t bring a mental health crisis to an end, but they can go a long way in helping your loved one feel safe, secure, and ready to engage in a treatment process.

Diagnosing Mental Health Issues

A mental health crisis is often the first sign that you or your loved one is experiencing symptoms of an underlying mental health condition. As such, it’s important to seek out the help of a mental health professional in order to determine what the specific concern may be and how best to treat it.

Any number of common mental health concerns can lead to a mental health crisis. Some of the more common mental health challenges people face include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

When they are left untreated, these disorders can frequently lead to a buildup of stress and challenges that can lead to a mental health crisis. Finding effective treatment can drastically reduce the impact these mental health problems can cause and get you back to living with a higher quality of life.

Traditional Mental Health Treatment Options

Traditionally, mental health treatment has fallen into one of two camps:

  1. Behavioural talk therapy
  2. Medication management

Both of these approaches have decades of evidence supporting their effectiveness in helping people overcome their mental health symptoms and even greater effectiveness when they are used in combination with one another.

Talk therapy typically falls along one of several modalities, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
  • Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Couples therapy
  • Group therapy

Each of these unique therapeutic styles has a significant evidence base for treating mental health conditions, though some are better suited for certain disorders than others.

For example, EMDR was designed to help people recovering from trauma or PTSD, whereas CBT is generally considered most effective for treating disorders such as depression.

Medication management has different medications and treatment processes to help people achieve their recovery goals. Starting medication management means meeting regularly with a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication, monitor your progress, and make adjustments as needed to help you achieve a greater sense of mental health.

What to Do if Therapy Isn’t Working

Though talk therapy and medication are largely considered to be the first-line approach for treating common mental health conditions, the fact is that they cannot guarantee success. Many people have tried therapy and medication for years without success and can be left feeling a reduced sense of hope for their recovery.

Thankfully, new treatment interventions have risen to prominence in the last several years that can provide hope and recovery for people who haven’t found success with therapy and medication alone.

Novel Mental Health Treatment Options at APN London

At APN London, our team uses a comprehensive and holistic approach to helping people overcome their mental health challenges. While we are not equipped to keep people safe during mental health crises and psychotic episodes, we can help reduce the risk of experiencing subsequent mental health crises.

We offer traditional treatment options like therapy and medication management but also provide the opportunity for our clients to engage in innovative treatment techniques and wellness programs to further their chances of success. This includes options such as:

Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS) is an exciting new avenue for treating common mental health challenges. In disorders such as anxiety, PTSD, and depression, certain brain regions have been found to be less active than neurotypical controls. Stimulating these regions has been shown to drastically improve symptoms, but it has historically been limited to invasive surgery options with a high cost.

dTMS changes this paradigm by providing targeted, non-invasive brain stimulation with a specialised device. A specially designed cap can send brief electric impulses to underactive brain regions using magnetic technology.

This has quickly been shown to provide lasting mental health improvements to clients and can help you get back to feeling your best.

Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine is a dissociative psychedelic that has been used in medicine for decades. Yet only recently has it been investigated as a potential mental health treatment, and the results are striking.

Ketamine-assisted healing is, essentially, a therapy session that is enhanced by the medication ketamine. A small dose of ketamine can help people make breakthroughs in talk therapy that would otherwise take months or years and can lead to lasting changes in mood, behaviour, and mental health symptoms.

While these effects can be seen in just a single session, repeated sessions of ketamine-assisted healing can further solidify your progress in treatment.

Lifestyle Psychiatry

Lifestyle psychiatry combines the benefits of conventional psychiatry with targeted lifestyle changes to help people sustain the change they want to see in their mental health.

By incorporating diet, exercise, sleep, and social lifestyle changes into your overall treatment plan, you can make changes in mental health symptoms that are sustainable long-term.

Working with a lifestyle psychiatrist can help motivate you to make these changes, maintain your resolve, and build healthy new habits that propel you to a much higher quality of life.

Integrated Treatment Packages

The integrated treatment packages at APN London include several different options for people looking for a holistic approach to mental health. These are divided into three packages, depending on your specific needs and preferences:

  1. Optimal Healing
  2. Balanced Healing
  3. Foundational Healing

All integrated treatment packages include an assessment with an APN therapist and personal trainer, unlimited group therapy, and unlimited Group 9x fitness sessions. Balanced and Optimal packages include weekly individual therapy, regular psychiatry check-ins, nutrition counselling, massage, personal training sessions, and much more.

Start Treatment at APN London

APN is not a mental health crisis centre. If you or your loved one are experiencing a crisis, we urge you to call the NHS emergency helpline to get immediate emergency mental health services.

But APN London can help you or your loved ones prevent future mental health crises, build an effective treatment plan, and restore your mental health to a better state.

When you’re ready to begin receiving the best evidence-based treatment for your mental health, call our team at 0203 984 7699 or complete the online contact form.

References

  • InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Depression: How effective is psychological treatment? [Updated 2020 Jun 18]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430661/
  • Luke A. Jelen & James M. Stone (2021): Ketamine for depression, International Review of Psychiatry