20 Symptoms Of Mental Illness You May Not Have Been Aware To Look Out For

Mental illness is an extremely common topic in 2018, and 1-in-4 of us will have an experience with a mental illness in our lifetimes. What’s important to know is that all mental illnesses are treatable and sometimes completely curable. It is absolutely possible to alleviate symptoms and live a normal life.

That being said, it can often be difficult to identify why you may be feeling unlike yourself, or perhaps it’s someone else whose recent behavior has become a cause for concern.

Below you’ll find 20 lesser known symptoms of mental illnesses. If you or someone you know seems to match the description, it’s important to reach out and seek help. And remember, if someone reaches out to you, it’s extremely important that you reach back. You might be saving a life.


Depression is characterized by a feeling of low mood, low self-esteem, loss of interest in life, loss of pleasure, feelings of guilt, and poor concentration.

1. They use first-person pronouns more often

People with depression tend to be more inwardly focused and therefore use first-person pronouns like “I”, “me” and “myself” more often rather than using “he”, “she” and “them”. They also speak more negatively, choosing adjectives and adverbs like “hurt”, “lonely”, and “miserable”.

2. They spend a lot of time in bed

Depressed people spend a lot of time in bed and it’s not because they’re sleeping. While they are very likely tired, chances are they are not sleeping due to rumination, or cycling thoughts, that interferes with proper sleeping patterns.

3. They use black and white filters in social media

While those suffering from depression are less likely to use photo filters at all, when they do it’s usually the black and white one. Also, when they post pictures to social media, they will rarely share any pictures that includes their face.

4. They are apathetic

Depression is usually associated with feeling sad, but often those suffering from the condition feel nothing at all. They become numb and simply go through the motions of their day without feeling sad, but also without the ability to feel joy.

5. They can become forgetful

People with depression can often feel like they are suffering from memory loss. Although they aren’t really losing any memories, they can become very forgetful, have an inability to retain information, and can suddenly lack decision-making skills.

Have some of these symptoms but not all? Check out the next page to read about another, similar mental illness…

Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar disorder involves a cycling between depressive states and manic states, which is characterized by an unusually elevated or hyper state that may or may not include psychosis.

1. They can have psychotic breaks

Experiencing a psychotic break can include delusions or beliefs that are not founded in any truth or reality. A person may believe they are invincible or a god, or may think their mind is being read, or perhaps suspect their partner has committed a crime without any evidence.

2. They aren’t always super manic

While those with bipolar disorder do cycle between mania and depression, the manic episodes aren’t always that recognizable. A person doesn’t have to have delusions, but rather they could simply just become very hyper, confident and social. It may be a bit abnormal, but not enough to offend others.

3. They can spend a lot of money

During a manic episode, those with bipolar disorder can suddenly go on a shopping spree, buy big ticket items, max out credit cards, or just make silly and unreasonable purchases. If someone has suddenly gambled away their savings, maxed out their credit in one day, or bought a boat but lives in a landlocked state, then maybe its time to have a conversation.

4. They can be promiscuous

Manic episodes can also make someone’s sex drive go through the roof. They can have the urge to sleep with as many people as possible, perhaps without being safe, or at the expense of no longer being loyal to a partner.

5. They rarely finish tasks

People in a manic state may feel super ambitious and inspired and start all sorts of new and exciting projects, but when they enter into a depressive phase, those projects are left unfinished. Often routine tasks like paying the bills and keeping tidy go by the wayside as well.


Schizophrenia is characterized by unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the inability to carry out day-to-day tasks, often with delusions.

1. They don’t trust others

People with schizophrenia feel suspicious of others even though there is no real reason to feel that way. If you’re suddenly convinced your neighbor is hiding something or out of the blue no longer trust your mother, it could be schizophrenia. Feeling suspicious is one of the most common symptoms.

2. They laugh inappropriately

While it’s normal to laugh when something is funny or even when you’re feeling uncomfortable or nervous, laughter at inappropriate moments can be confusing. Those with schizophrenia laugh at the strangest things or at times when laughter is inappropriate.

3. They smell and taste differently

One unusual sign of schizophrenia is that things suddenly don’t smell or taste like they used to. Can’t smell a rose? Does delicious chocolate suddenly taste like chalk? Perhaps it’s time to see a medical professional.

4. They can have a flat affect

While schizophrenia is generally associated with inappropriate outbursts and out of character behavior, suddenly having no emotion whatsoever can also be a sign of the illness. If you or someone you know has become emotionless or now has a flat affect, it’s time to get help.

5. They can have hallucinations

People with schizophrenia can not only believe things that aren’t true, but they can sometimes see things that aren’t there also. Seeing hallucinations is a serious symptom and should be addressed with immediate medical attention.

Not feeling yourself, but don’t fit any of the descriptions yet? Perhaps you have anxiety…


Anxiety is characterized by extreme feelings of panic, worry, fear, nervousness, or impending doom, often accompanied by physical symptoms such as shakiness and high blood pressure.

1. They feel like dying

Those with anxiety can suddenly and without warrant feel like they are going to die. The sensation of imminent doom or that a terrible event is about to happen can be one of the most terrifying experiences related to the illness.

2. They can’t breathe

When in the throes of an acute panic attack, someone with anxiety may feel unable to breathe. They may start hyperventilating or feel unable to get enough air. Attempting to take deep breaths, drinking a glass of cold water, or stretching can help.

3. They get sweaty

If you find yourself suddenly covered in sweat but the air temperature is actually on the chilly side, then chances are it’s anxiety. Sweating when it isn’t warm is a very common symptom that most people with anxiety experience.

4. They feel nauseous

Have you ever felt a sudden urge to puke but don’t have the flu and haven’t eaten anything unusual? It could be anxiety. Some people with anxiety can feel so distressed that they become nauseous and need to throw up.

5. They can experience heart palpitations

Those with anxiety can sometimes feel like their heart is skipping beats or is pounding out of rhythm. The fluttering sensation is called a palpitation and is a common symptom of anxiety.

And perhaps most importantly, if someone reaches out to you and asks you to call them for a bit because they feel scared or lonely, or wants to grab a coffee to talk because they are feeling anxious, or needs support in finding a medical professional because they can’t do it on their own, reach back!
We live in a world filled with excuses like “not my problem”, “I have to put myself first”, and “they’ll just bring me down”, but remember: just twenty minutes of your life could save all of theirs.
Be kind. Be compassionate. Be a friend.

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