There are some mental health problems you can’t always see. Sometimes someone will say they’re OK when they’re actually suffering from some form of mental health problem.
Some symptoms cannot be seen, and the individual remains in constant battle with themselves.
As Nicole Lyons rightly highlights, “I have never seen battles quite as terrifyingly beautiful as the ones I fight when my mind splinters and races to swallow me into my own madness, again.“
SO, while it is important to understand what to say and how to approach the issue of mental health with individuals, it is also vital that you understand the symptoms associated with common mental health problems.
5 Hidden Mental Health Problems, Anxiety, Autism & More
Not all mental health problems have obvious symptoms that we can see straight away.
In some cases, we can often be completely unaware that a friend or family member is suffering in silence.
In the UK alone, 1 in 4 people will suffer from a form of mental health problem in their lifetime, according to mind.org.
From addictive personality disorders, social anxiety, autism or on the spectrum, many mental health issues can be easily overlooked and concealed, making them difficult to spot and to treat.
So, even when you ask a loved one how they’re feeling, and they say something along the lines of, ‘I’m fine.’, ‘I’m good.’ or ‘Stop worrying!’, this can actually be a call for help. One way to support and help your family, friends, colleagues or those in your care, is to be aware of hidden mental health issues and behaviours that often go hand in hand with an illness.
This will help you to piece together a mental health puzzle and confront the issue in a gentle, respectful way. So without further ado, here are 5 mental health problems that can be hidden.
1: Social Anxiety
Suffering from anxiety can be emotionally draining but if you believe someone close to you if suffering in silence with anxiety, you may have noticed the following behaviours.
- Cancelling or postponing last minute or not showing up to a social event
- Avoiding to meet up with family and friends
- Avoiding socialising
- Loss of interest
- Lack of clarity
- Lack of focus
- Poor decision making ability
- Negative ideas about events, gatherings or group activities
- Claims they prefer to stay home rather than go out
2: Autism & On The Spectrum
Being on the spectrum is another difficult mental health condition to spot, especially if the person is trying to hide it. If you notice some of the following personality traits or behaviours, it could be that your loved one is on the spectrum and could be autistic.
- Trouble understanding social cues, body language or facial expressions
- Struggles to focus on one task for a long time or spends a vast amount of time perfecting one thing
- Can’t maintain a conversation
- Expresses ideas and thoughts quickly and without a stable train of thought
- Struggles to express their emotions or understand how others might feel
Depression can have a huge impact on a person’s sense of happiness and self-worth, but it can easily be overlooked. When you suffer from depression or social anxiety, you might feel the need to hide it from relatives, friends or colleagues. However, if you believe someone is depressed, you may have noticed a couple of things recently:
- Negative opinions about their life and themselves
- Lack of self-care or they start to neglect themselves
- They get emotional over small problems
- They may be drinking more alcohol or coffee lately
- Lack of energy and sleeping more than usual
- Suffering from anxiety or stress
4: Bipolar Disorder
This mental health condition is fairly common and according to the NHS, 1 in 100 people will suffer from bipolar disorder at some point in their life.
As this illness intensifies emotions, some people may put emotional outbursts or periods of depression down to personality, rather than a mental health problem.
If you witness some of the following behaviours or characteristics in a loved one or close friend, they could be suffering from bipolar.
- Hyperactive or agitated
- Decreased need to relax or sleep
- More talkative than usual
- Racing thoughts
- Easily distracted
- Exaggerated emotions that don’t last a long time
5: Addictive Personality Disorder
Due to the guilt often associated with an addiction, an addictive personality disorder can sometimes be hidden away. Although you might not know what the addictive personality relates to or why it has been triggered, here are some common behaviours you may have noticed:
- Stockpiling a certain product such as wine, cigarettes or food
- Lack of interest in group activities
- Unstable relationships
- Emotional swings
- Prefers to be alone or away from family or friends
- Ignoring work commitments or dealing with other problems
Whether you or a loved one is suffering from a hidden mental health problem or not, it’s important to understand that a smile might be concealing an internal struggle.
As a society, we should all strive to be more open and honest about how we deal with, and how we help those who suffer in silence from a mental health issue.
Whether it be social anxiety, depression, or an addictive personality, a mental health issue is never something to be ashamed of.
Before You Go
Fine does not always mean fine. I hope these symptoms will enable you to identify when a friend, family member or someone you are supporting as a social worker is struggling with their mental health.
Always pay close attention to these symptoms and support the individual to seek early help.
Finally, remember to take care of your own mental health.
“Taking good care of your mental health is taking good care of the entire world.” – Clyde Lee Dennis
You can get started with wellbeing by cultivating habits to aid the growth of your mental health and overall wellbeing. For instance, by having a positive outlook on life and engaging in meditation to help quiet your mind.
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