Recognizing an Emotional Crisis

Article by Dr Nicoletta Pallotta.  MD, LCSW-R

Do you ever find yourself muttering,
“I think I’m going to lose it” when confronted with overwhelming situations? Do you ever notice your peers or colleagues vent about “having a breakdown,” “being a mess,” or throwing around the phrase, “I’m literally gonna die”?

While these thoughts and tropes tend to exist more colloquially, sometimes even in comedic hyperbole, they could very well be indicative of a much deeper emotional crisis. How can we go about uncovering these emotional hardships?

An emotional crisis can be easily detectable, especially following a traumatic incident in life. Life-altering events commonly trigger these thought processes; whether it’s a relationship break-up, a sickness or a death, a robbery, or even an assault, unfortunate circumstances punctuate our lives in painful ways, and without the right treatment, the damage can be crippling. Common symptoms include (but are not limited to) intense anxiety bursts, feelings of anger, shame, defeat, hopelessness and fear, depression, lethargy and crying episodes.

Sometimes, however, an emotional crisis isn’t decipherable to others; in fact, if trauma is suppressed long enough, you may not even know you’re suffering at all. Symptoms can surface through physical manifestations, complete with body aches, weakness, dizziness, and fatigue. Just like a fever, emotional trauma can present itself with heart palpitations and sweats, severe changes in eating patterns, and even sleep changes. Nightmares and flashbacks force those with emotional trauma to re-experience and re-live the incidents, and such intensified mental imagery can potentially lead to numbness or emotional detachment.

If any of these symptoms seem familiar to you, don’t shy away from examining and tuning into them! The most intrinsic aspect in the coping process is identifying these feelings, recognizing them as valid and necessary, despite how deeply you wish to ignore them, and vocalizing them openly. That’s where I come in.
Speaking to a trusted, nonjudgemental confidant is essential to your path to recovery. Professionals like me, with training in both crisis and trauma intervention, are always available to you, as well as several support groups and treatment centers. Repressing your difficult thoughts may feel more comfortable in the moment, but ultimately, bottling up emotional strife does more harm than good.

Reconciling a traumatic experience, albeit time exhaustive, is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. The road to healing may be long, with bumps and swerves along the way, but you will always be armed with unconditional support. You are never alone in this journey, as I want to ensure that you can return to living your life to the absolute fullest.
For the next time that your mind tells you that you’re “losing it” or “having a breakdown,” listen patiently to that menacing voice, and march it straight toward the path to healing — it very well might be your biggest advocate on your road to success!

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