Many people make light of nervous breakdowns, often using the term in a joking and over-exaggerative manner. However, nervous breakdowns, although not officially referred to as a medical condition, are still very serious, as they signal several underlying mental issues which must be addressed.

According to the Mayo Clinic, nervous breakdowns occur when an individual is exposed to enormous, almost insurmountable amounts of stress and/or anxiety. While stress is a major part of all of our lives, some instances of stress, such as those caused by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can drive a person “over the edge”.

The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

So with PTSD serving as an underlying cause for nervous breakdowns, how can an individual decipher whether he or she is undergoing a nervous breakdown?

The Mayo Clinic outlines specific symptoms commonly associated with nervous breakdowns. These symptoms are generally associated with other anxiety disorders, so it is very important that a person measures the length of their “breakdown”. The Mayo Clinic clearly says that a nervous breakdown is a “temporary” inability to cope with stress or anxiety. However, if an individual experiences reoccurring issues with handling stress and/or anxiety, and deeper, more serious underlying mental disorder may exist, and should be investigated by a medical professional immediately.

The symptoms of a nervous breakdown include avoidance symptoms, which deters a person from facing a stressful situation head-on. The Mayo Clinic says that a person might call out of work sick for “a few days or more” so that they may eschew any stressful instigators which will ultimately worsen their condition. Similarly, a person might also avoid any and all social interactions, whether it be with close family, friends, or co-workers. Social interactions by themselves can be very mentally taxing, so it seems logical for people who are experiencing nervous breakdowns to want to be left alone to cope with their stress and anxiety by themselves without further stimulation or instigation.

Usually, stress-relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation, taking a vacation, and even psychiatric medication can all be useful in overcoming a nervous breakdown. However, combating a nervous breakdown brought on by PTSD is an entirely different ballgame, and usually requires more intensive medical treatment.

However, instead of going through the VA, veterans who suffer from PTSD are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA, especially with the growing scandals over the past few weeks that have been leaked by several news outlets. Instead, afflicted veterans should consult medical attention from other more honest and holistic organizations.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.