Job, Economic Stressors Can Be Precursors for Mental Breakdowns: Doctor | NBC Southern California

Job, Economic Stressors Can Be Precursors for Mental Breakdowns: Doctor

Stressful lifestyles abound, and may be a factor for those who lose control

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If a pilot on a major commercial air carrier can lose his grip on reality mid-flight, who isn't at risk? Many people were asking that question, and Gordon Tokumatsu has some answers. (Published Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015)

    In a camera-laden world, viral videos are born every minute. Often, highly educated professionals, like JetBlue Captain Clayton Osbon, are made famous in an instant, for all the wrong reasons.

    Similar notoriety struck "Kony 2012" filmmaker Jason Russell, who appeared screaming in various stages of dress on the streets of San Diego, and Army Sgt. Robert Bales, accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians.

    "People just can only take so much," said Los Angeles resident Cornelius Hobson.

    "All that stuff that's going around, man, there's bound to be stress," said resident Shawn Shields, offering his opinion on why some people snap.

    Turns out, there may be some truth to the theory that "all that stuff," like economic sluggishness and job instability, plays a role in mental breakdowns.

    A recent study found that one in five adults between the ages of 18 and 25 experienced diagnosable mental illness last year.

    "They’re working longer hours;" said Forensic Psychologist Dr. Glenn Lipson. "They have less people they’re working with to deal with the economic factors of what’s going on."

    That frenzy and across-the-board pressure can overtake lives.

    "People can’t take a minute to slow down," said Lynnette Rahm of Los Angeles. "I think that just makes people crack."

    To be clear, chemical imbalances or missed medications are often at the root of these incidents.

    Such was the case of a Dallas flight attendant, reportedly suffering from bi-polar disorder and off her medications, when she started shrieking over the intercom a couple of weeks ago.

    But some psychologists wonder, what underlies the frequency of such meltdowns?

    "Sometimes stress will push you to the point where those become manifest or come out," Lipson said, adding that it doesn't take a mental health professional to spot the precursors to a loss of mental control.

    Odd obsessions, eating disorders and withdrawing from contact with others are often symptoms.

    "The warning signs are changes in behavior," Lipson said. "That’s why we have to pay attention."

    Experts note, if you see this behavior in a relative, co-worker or friend, it's time to take action before the stress of daily life does it for you.

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