Know the Five Signs of Emotional Suffering

Learn the signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help.

Content from The Campaign to Change Direction

Personality Change

Their personality changes. You may notice sudden or gradual changes in the way that someone typically behaves.

He or she may behave in ways that don’t seem to fit the person’s values, or the person may just seem different.


They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody. You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling his or her temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down.

People in more extreme situations of this kind may be unable to sleep or may explode in anger at a minor problem.


They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people. Someone who used to be socially engaged may pull away from family and friends and stop taking part in activities he or she used to enjoy. In more severe cases the person may start failing to make it to work or school.

Not to be confused with the behavior of someone who is more introverted, this sign is marked by a change in someone’s typical sociability, as when someone pulls away from the social support he or she typically has.

Poor Self-Care

They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior. You may notice a change in the person’s level of personal care or an act of poor judgment on his or her part.

For instance, someone may let his or her personal hygiene deteriorate, or the person may start abusing alcohol or illicit substances or engaging in other self-destructive behavior that may alienate loved ones.


They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now can’t find anything to be hopeful about? That person may be suffering from extreme or prolonged grief, or feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

People in this situation may say that the world would be better off without them, suggesting suicidal thinking.

If you recognize that someone in your life is suffering, now what?

You can try to connect, reach out, inspire hope, and offer help. But sometimes it takes an extra step.

If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve.

Follow the links below to find support from trained professionals.

And remember, sometimes just a reminder to pause and breathe can make a big difference.

*This is not a diagnosis tool. For professional help, consult a physician.