22 ‘It’s Time To Reach Out’ Mental Health Red Flags Everyone Should Know About

Brook Cagle

As any person with depression or anxiety can tell you, a depressed person often doesn’t look depressed or even seem that way. Below are the red flags everyone needs to know about as expressed by those who have been depressed themselves or are still struggling with their mental health.

1. Their Routine Is Empty

When they do nothing except work/school and then go home. I’ve no motivation to even begin anything enjoyable so I just browse the web until my stomach growls. Then dinner, shower, bed, do it again. And again. And again.


2. Their Life Patterns Change Drastically

Thing is, depression and unhappiness have some weird effects.

For example, insomnia is one of the symptoms of depression. But excessive sleep is also one of the symptoms of depression. Weird, right?

It could be anything. Differs from person to person. Some will pretend to be happy and smile with you, but go quiet and reserved when they think you’re not looking. Some will not try to hide it as much and will look reserved, rarely smile even with people around.

Some might work less. Laziness and lack of interest often come with depression. But others will drown themselves in work, trying to escape the unwanted reality.

Some will stop enjoying things they like. Like, lose interest in video games, for example. Others will, again, escape from depression by putting themselves in easy and fun situations, reading books, watching movies or playing video games.

Point is, you can never know. I know these things from experience. Sometimes I lose interest in stuff I enjoy. I often oversleep or don’t sleep enough. I often pretend to be OK for those around me, smiling and laughing with them, but I rarely do that with honesty. I also know that from the research I did when asking the same questions on “What is depression?” and “What are its symptoms?” And what I learned is that we don’t know what depression is any more than we know the secrets of the cosmos. Our minds are just as complicated as quantum physics. We don’t know what depression is, and we only know some of its symptoms, which are different depending on the person.


3. They Don’t ‘Seem’ To Care But Actually Care A Lot

A numbness that looks like not caring. It’s not even necessarily not caring. You can completely care that you have 500 household chores that need done. The problem sometimes is just not having the energy to do anything. Dealing with people at work all day is fucking exhausting, not to mention physically busting your ass. Trying to be a good parent and spouse is exhausting. Just getting through the bare requirements of your day takes all of your mental and physical fortitude and then you have to do it again tomorrow. And it’s like that every day. So sure, I care that the dishes need to be washed or that I need a haircut, I just don’t care enough because I’m already overworked and stretched too thin and it’s just not fucking important in comparison compared to trying to recharge/relax for a little bit so I can get through the next day without absolutely losing my religion on some poor bastard.


4. Their House Is Messy Or Dirty

My anxiety makes me stress out about the fact that my house needs tidying and cleaning but the thought of actually doing that is so overwhelming I just can’t face doing it so it becomes a vicious circle.


5. They’re Isolated

Isolation is the biggest in my opinion, when all of a sudden your friend just stops making contact it might not be because they don’t like you, it’s because they don’t want to annoy you with their unhappiness.

I’d be depressed a lot and sometimes don’t want to annoy my friends because I find it hard enough to be by myself, I can only imagine how it is for you to be around me!


6. They ‘Go With The Flow’

People who just kinda “go with the flow.” Not in a happy go lucky sorta way, but like they never give their opinions and just agree with what others say. They let others speak before them, then let the person after them go, then the next, etc. etc. It’s kind of a sign that they aren’t motivated to be invested in their own lives or in the lives of their friends and families, and that they don’t value themselves and their ideas much, if at all. I speak from experience, I’ve had my share of internal “shut the fuck up, no one cares” moments. It’s crushing.


7. They Apologize More Than They Need

They apologize a lot. They’re used to being “the fuck up” or they feel like everything they do makes everyone dislike them.


8. They’re Anxious Around Groups

My not-so-subtle sign that I’m not-so-secretly unhappy:

When hanging out with a group of friends, things will be okay for a couple of hours, then I’ll start getting depressed and looking around at all the little groups that I’m not a part of and feeling like a complete waste of space and I’ll sneak out the back door and leave without saying anything to anyone.

And then you go home and worry obsessively about how awkward it’s going to be the next time you see all those people because you totally just walked out without saying goodbye to anyone? And you know that they either noticed and started talking about how weird you are or didn’t notice at all, and you can’t decide which is worse?


9. Their Eating Patterns Are All Over The Place

They either have minimal appetite and food turns them off, or the opposite: they over-eat to assuage their unhappiness.


10. They’re Slacking At Work Or At School

I’m able to manage my depression and such rather well and keep it from affecting me at work. But recently it starting creeping up more and more at work. My boss pulled me aside and asked me if anything was wrong, and that I should just take it easy for a little while. Nobody has ever asked me if I’m every okay and I nearly broke down over it. Just the fact that he asked help me pull through and I feel much better over the whole thing.


11. They Can’t Get Going

Staying in bed all day.


12. They Run Themselves Down When They Didn’t Used To

Self-deprecating comments as jokes.


13. They Become Forgetful

Memory issues. Often times untreated or undertreated depression and/or anxiety causes serious memory issues.


14. They Smile Through The Pain

Beware of those that suffer from what gets called in psychiatric parlance as “Smiling Depression”.

It is appearing happy to others and smiling through the pain, keeping the inner chaos hidden. They avoid disclosing their depression and inner suffering from all, even spouses and SOs. Co-workers, family, and friends get to know only once a major breach occurs and, at times, it is too late.” Poor Joe, he was such a good natured guy, why did he attempt such a thing?”


15. They Always Say They’re Tired

They say that they are “tired” a lot. That is usually code for unhappy even on a subconscious level.


16. They Accept Less Than They Should

They are content with giving more than they receive and are literally ok with everything- both good and bad.


17. They Overanalyze Others

If a person is overly conscious of another person’s emotional state then they’re probably battling depression.


18. They’re On Edge

“Getting angry over the smallest thing.’


19. They’re Someone No One Knows

The most telling sign of someone who is unhappy is when they aren’t a part of your life or anybody’s for that matter.

I’m “secretly” unhappy because I have nobody to be a part of my life. Call your friends and invite them to things. Some of us don’t have the mental ability to reach out even when we need it most.


20. They Are Focused On The Negative

In conversation, they talk about things that bother and annoy them rather than things that motivate and excite them.


21. Nothing Surprises Them Anymore

They’re too used to being disappointed that they can’t muster the emotion to feel happy when something finally good happens. It’s like they’d get one good day out of a 365 day year, that’s 364 shitty/meh/mild days they’ve had to put up with to get that one.

Stuff like that weighs down people’s expectations.


22. They Don’t Want To Talk About Themselves

They are constantly deflecting any questions about themselves and always diverting the conversation back to you.



You just spent ten minutes scouring this list to see if anyone else feels what you feel. They do and you aren’t alone. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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