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GeordieGent
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15 Mar 2016, 6:55 pm

I ask this because once I had what, I would consider a Mental Breakdown (I had two before so this is how I knew) but one Doctor referred to it as an Anxiety Meltdown when I asked her if I was having a mental breakdown. Is it the same thing? I wasn't sure if it was different or if she was trying to be tactful assuming that I could handle that label better. The term anxiety meltdown is hard to find on the internet and I know that mental breakdown is not a medical term in use anymore. It made me wonder what actually was going on at the time.



ZombieBrideXD
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15 Mar 2016, 7:36 pm

A meltdown brought on by anxiety is common.

Its a loss of emotional and self control due to an excessive amount of anxiety. thats all really.


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RaspberryFrosty
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16 Mar 2016, 3:03 am

It's basically a freak-out caused by overwhelming anxiety, at least for me it is. People experience it differently. When I get too anxious, I start panicking, crying, and stimming at the same time and it takes a while for me to calm down.


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Trogluddite
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16 Mar 2016, 11:44 am

I think there's often a bit of confusion between two different things here, and the different works that people use to describe them. For me, I can identify two very different kind of "melt-down".

1) Autistic melt-down.

This is the one most often described here at WrongPlanet, I think. It tends to be a relatively temporary thing - for me, just a few minutes up to maybe a day or so. They can be triggered by anything that overwhelms us because our brain is over-stimulated and simply can't process the information coming in. They can be caused by anxiety over issues in life, but commonly are also caused by sensory overload, feeling lost due to a change in routine or environment, or frustration at having difficulty communicating our thoughts and feelings.

When they occur, I typically cannot communicate at all, cannot comprehend other people's communication, and have little awareness of my surroundings - I have to stim and remove myself from whatever stimulus caused the melt-down. When asked afterwards to explain the cause, it often makes no sense to anyone except maybe other autistic people.

2) Anxiety melt-down. Often called "burn-out" or an "acute depressive episode".

This is a problem caused by exposure to anxiety over a much longer period of time. There's only so much of this that a person can take before the mind simply cannot cope with it any more. Although autistic melt-downs do happen when in this state, and may be more likely, it is characterised by falling into a very acute depression lasting anything from a few weeks to months or years (if not treated). In this state, I'm not trying to avoid short-term stimulus, I just want to stop the world and get off completely.

Anyone can have an anxiety melt-down, as all people can experience stress and anxiety. However, it's likely that autistic people are much more prone to it, as dealing with the non-autistic world around us is often a constant cause of stress that we simply can't avoid completely. I think this sounds more like what your Doctor is suggesting.

I've had about five major breakdowns like this, beginning in my teens. Each time, I have withdrawn from the world around me almost completely, and suffer crippling depression. At times, I have thoughts of suicide, or more commonly will be absolutely apathetic about anything and everything.

However, these kind of melt-downs are likely to respond to the typical treatments for acute depression - they are a mental illness existing alongside the autism, but are not part of the autism per se. Both medication and CBT (with an autism aware counsellor if possible) have helped me to get through them, and also to manage anxiety better so that they are less likely.


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CockneyRebel
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16 Mar 2016, 1:38 pm

I've had quite a few of those over the past 10 weeks. They've gotten a lot less frequent as time's gone on.


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