What is a psychotic break

Psychotic break, nervous breakdown. Terms – eventualities – that scare the breeches off of many who endure a mood or anxiety disorder. As in, “I’m going to have one and that’ll be the end of me.” Well, hop back into those pants. Here’s what you need to know…

It’s important to understand that a psychotic break doesn’t always signal the onset of a long-term emotional/mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.

Those of us who maneuver around, and through, mood or anxiety disorders are the very best at scripting disasters. It’s called catastrophizing, which easily makes the Chipur list of 15 Styles of Distorted Thinking.

Now, if we put together another list, maybe, disasters most feared by mood and anxiety disorder sufferers, I’m thinking experiencing a psychotic break or nervous breakdown would be in the top three.

But what are they, anyway?

Steadfastly believing facts work to negate distortions, and worry doesn’t equate to reality, here’s what you need to know about psychotic breaks and nervous breakdowns…

Psychotic Breaks

Simply, when an individual experiences an episode of acute primary psychosis, most often for the first time, a psychotic break has occurred.

Acute primary psychosis? Well, it doesn’t have a diagnostic code, but it’s characterized by rapid onset of psychotic symptoms, typically hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thought, speech, or behavior.

It’s important to understand that a psychotic break doesn’t always signal the onset of a long-term emotional/mental disorder, such as schizophrenia.

It’s also important to understand that psychotic symptoms can come out of nowhere within the context of major depressive disorder or bipolarity.

Fact is, any number of situations can generate a psychotic break – excessive stress, loss of a loved one, sleep deprivation, emotional/mental disorders, fever or other medical issues, trauma, compulsive substance use, and then some.

Point being, even if a psychotic break occurs, it isn’t the end of the world.

And when it comes to brief psychotic experiences, always keep this in mind. When reality becomes unbearable, the mind may well temporarily break from it. I believe the same is true for dissociative phenomena such as derealization and depersonalization.

So it seems as though our minds strive to protect us. I think that provides this psychotic break business with a soft, gentle – hopeful – sort of tone.

Nervous Breakdowns

Okay, so what does “nervous breakdown” even mean? Let’s start with Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin…

The term ‘nervous breakdown’ is sometimes used by people to describe a stressful situation in which they’re temporarily unable to function in day-to-day life. It’s commonly understood to occur when life’s demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming.

The term was frequently used in the past to cover a variety of mental disorders, but it’s no longer used by mental health professionals today.

Does that remove a lot of the sting from the term?

Still, the good doctor’s description is accurate and important. And that means this acute, time-limited emotional/mental state merits priority attention. However, it isn’t a stand-alone diagnosis, rather a constellation of symptoms generated by underlying issues – any of which can be addressed and relieved.

Those underlying issues? Diagnosable emotional/mental disorders, burnout, over-stimulation, severe overwork, sleep deprivation, relationship troubles, financial problems, work or school misery, medical challenges, and so much more.

For the record, common signs of the onset of a “nervous breakdown” are depression, anxiety, fatigue, physical pain, and obsessive thinking.

In summary, how ’bout this observation from professor and author Richard E. Vatz from his co-authored book Thomas S. Szasz: The Man and His Ideas?

‘Nervous breakdown’ is a pseudo-medical term to describe a wealth of stress-related feelings and they are often made worse by the belief that there is a real phenomenon called ‘nervous breakdown.’

How choice is that?

So nervous breakdowns. Are we freaked into fear by terminology? I think so.

And, by the way, what if I submitted that many of us may have already had (and survived) one or several “nervous breakdowns?” Would you agree? If so, doesn’t that put the issue into perspective?

Time to Move-On

From its inception, Chipur has been about sharing, learning, and healing. And the learning component is grounded in facts. That’s so important as we navigate through our often distorted mood and anxiety disordered world.

So now you have need-to-knows on psychotic breaks and nervous breakdowns. Please, if you’ve ever feared what you believe to be a sure eventuality, use the knowledge to lighten your load.

And keep those breeches on, okay?

Hey! As always, hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder articles are waiting for you. Check-out the titles