As the human body strives to maintain physical balance, the mind tries to maintain some sort of mental balance. At a time when the mind fails to maintain this balance, or when environmental effects are beyond our ability to cope with the new situation, we face psychological crisis. So, the crisis is a sign that our existing coping mechanisms are unable to overcome the problem we are facing.
The most common causes of crisis are divided in two basic groups: those related to growth, development and change of various life stages (developmental crisis) and those related to some negative external events such as illness, loss, injury, threats and other (situational crisis).
It is important to emphasize that crisis is not an illness, but rather a short-term psychological disturbance. Anxiety and depression are common in a time of crisis. If it is not dealt with, it can result in tension building up and more severe anxiety, as well as fear and feeling of helplessness. These symptoms can be accompanied by a number of physical problems, changes in behavior: lower work and intellectual efficiency, difficulties in communication and performing one’s social roles. A person in crisis is very often ‘deeply shaken’ and needs help from other people.
In literature, crisis is often seen as a risk, as well as an opportunity. If there were no crisis, there would not be development of personality. This is due to the fact that crisis helps us overcome ourselves, grow stronger by developing our mechanisms and behavior patterns that help us to deal with problems. Help and support have a major role in achieving this.
Depending on the type of the crisis, the extent of it and other factors, help can be obtained from people in one’s immediate environment, healthcare employees, psychologists, etc. Crisis intervention centers, which employ both professionals as well as trained volunteers, play an important role in providing help.
The aim of crisis intervention is to help people to regain their normal psychological performance framework. Firstly, this means that the person should be assisted in reinforcing his/her existing mechanisms to face and overcome the new situation by him/herself.