Social media is a tool that can showcase both the best and the worst parts of a person’s life.

While people are using social media to be more transparent about mental health, mental illness continues to be a concern. Depression, anxiety and stress are common challenges people face. Although social platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, have become valuable resources for raising awareness, they also play an active role in the problem. Some may find it overwhelming, as unrealistic expectations created by users oversaturate online platforms. In combination with life’s realities and challenges, this can lead a person to their breaking point.

What Is A Mental Breakdown?

According to clinical social worker and therapist Joy Pate, a mental breakdown happens when someone is experiencing overwhelming stressors that can lead to depression and anxiety. In extreme cases, people can enter a state of psychosis. Psychosis consists of experiencing delusions or hallucinations that are not rooted in truth or reality. 

“A lot of people are surprised to know that extreme cases of stress can trigger psychosis,” Pate said. “Sometimes people have a psychotic disorder where they experience those symptoms regularly. People can also have psychotic breaks where the stress is so bad that they then enter psychosis.”

Sadness, hopelessness and isolation are just a few ways depression and anxiety can show up in a person’s behavior. Stress shifts how people respond to situations. As soon as stress negatively impacts a loved one’s outlook on life, erratic behaviors may follow.

Signs To Watch Out For 

An Increase In Posting

Over-posting is when a person excessively shares content within a short period of time. This can be video content, audio a series of images, comments or anything else related to communicating on social media. These unusual posting habits are generally unpredictable and can be warning signs of someone experiencing distress.

Unusual Social Media Posts

Pate pointed out that changes in the type of content being posted are another sign that raises a red flag. Radical content or an increase in conspiracy theories are examples of a person who may be spiraling. If anything seems out of the ordinary, then that’s a cue that that person is due for an immediate check-in.

Sad Or Alarming Content

When someone is going through a hard time, how they act on social media will often reflect that. Posting at random times during the day and at night with cryptic messages is something that indicates a bigger issue. Posts that express themes of sadness or anger communicate that they are struggling.  

“When they’re doing this in front of other people or on a public platform, it might be a cry for help,” she shared.

How To Help Someone You Know

Approach The Person Privately

Whether sending a quick text or calling them over the phone, engaging in an open conversation helps assess their level of vulnerability. Meeting in person provides a better assessment because someone can spot any physical changes in their body language and tone. Going a step further in reaching out, those concerns for their well-being can lead to an open and honest conversation about the challenges they’re facing.

Offer Tangible Support 

When someone is not in a healthy state of mind, it can be harder to communicate and figure out the type of support that would be helpful. Instead of saying you support them, Pate suggested stating specific ways you can show up for them. That can look like bringing them a meal, taking them to their favorite place or setting aside time to complete an activity.

“A lot of the time, people don’t know what they need,” the therapist said. “When they’re in a crisis, it’s hard for them to find the words to communicate what they need from a person.

Don’t Ghost Them

She warned against “ghosting” or stopping all forms of communication with someone when they show they’re going through a hard time. People who are on the cusp of having a mental breakdown or are experiencing one are in a vulnerable state. Someone may choose to ghost to avoid discomfort or if the situation is too much for them to handle. However, disappearing can cause a person to question their worth.

“That can be very harmful,” Pate shared. “Disappearing can make them feel as if they were too much for the one person supporting them.” 

When To Get Professionals Involved 

Pate emphasized that a professional or guardian should intervene when a person threatens their safety or demonstrates harm to others. 

“Saying they don’t want to be here anymore, wishing they weren’t alive, or anything suggesting that they may be experiencing a degree of crisis that is a threat to their life or someone else’s is when I would get professionals involved,” she said.

There are now more resources than ever available for people who are going through a rough patch in their lives.