People who are deeply unhappy without realizing it often display these 10 subtle behaviors

If you’re unhappy 

And you don’t know it

Clap your hands

OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how sneaky unhappiness can be, especially if you just accept it as your baseline. 

Often, though, deeply unhappy people don’t realize that they are unhappy in the first place. Their behavior has become their new normal so they’ve slowly become adjusted to it. 

Could this be you or a loved one?  These ten behaviors can indicate deep unhappiness within.

1) Fatigue

Being sad is exhausting. Facts.

When we’re not content with our lives, it takes an enormous toll on our mental and physical well-being. 

Chronic fatigue is one of the most common ways this reality manifests itself.

People who are deeply–if unknowingly– unhappy struggle with emotional and physical exhaustion

This isn’t just your garden variety tired, this is the special edition tired that seeps deep within your bones and makes itself at home.

It’s a debilitating kind of fatigue that can lay you low. It doesn’t matter how much sleep you get, you’ll still feel like a wrung-out sponge, and that’s on a good day.

2) Irritability

Irritability is a good indication that you’re unhappy, even if you’re flying-under-the-radar unhappy. What little patience you have left is running out. 

Everything is annoying, so it’s no surprise that you’re far more prone to lose it over relatively trivial things.

When someone is deeply unhappy, the kind of stuff they’d usually brush off becomes big issues. 

And it’s more than just having a bad day. 

If you notice this tendency in someone, or even yourself, this could be a warning sign that something is brewing beneath the surface and presenting as irritability. 

3) Anxiety

If you are what my Gram used to call a “worry wart,” listen up. 

Chronic worry is a classic hallmark of repressed unhappiness. 

And it makes perfect sense, because when we’re not content with our lives, we may find ourselves dreading the future or living the past.

When the present is too overwhelming, constantly rewinding and fast-forwarding is a self-protective technique. 

This relentless onslaught of anxiety is exhausting. And it’s a contributing factor to other behaviors connected to hidden unhappiness, such as the aforementioned fatigue and irritability.

4) Withdrawal

First, let me just say I love me some solitude. I’m a big fan.  But I also understand that the motivation behind why you prefer to be alone is the difference between a happy introvert or someone who’s low-key unhappy. 

So, the “why” is very important here. 

If you’re isolating to learn to understand yourself better or recharge your social batteries, this probably means you’re an introvert on a mission, which is not a cause for concern.

But if you’re closing yourself off and isolating because you’re unhappy and unfulfilled, there’s a decent chance you may be struggling emotionally, whether you’re consciously aware of it or not.

5) Escapism

Escapism is my favorite hobby. I can lose myself in music, laugh hysterically at cartoons, and immerse myself in Tudor times via my time machine, aka bookcase.

I have many interests that serve as my coping mechanisms during challenging times. 

This is not to imply that I’m miserable. I’m well aware of my motivations, and I’m careful to check in with myself to make sure escapism isn’t morphing into toxic avoidance.

Because that’s a fine line sometimes. And if you’re secretly unhappy, you may take refuge in escapism to dodge your troubles.

And that’s cool in small doses, as long as you realize escapism doesn’t do diddly to address your very real problems. 

So I’ll throw on some old Motown to fortify myself for the battle ahead, not to turn tail and run from it.

6) Self-deprecation 

someone deeply unhappy according to psychology People who are deeply unhappy without realizing it often display these 10 subtle behaviors

Do you know someone who’s forever putting themselves down? Is that someone you, perhaps? 

These people struggle with accepting compliments without brushing them off or countering it with a self-deprecating remark. Being the object of praise may be mentally, and even physically, uncomfortable.

Self-deprecation may point to underlying unhappiness, so we need to remember that this behavior isn’t indicative of humility. 

7) Shopping addiction

Here’s the bottom line–shopping gives you an immediate dopamine boost and a sense of control. And sometimes that’s just what you’re looking for when you’re secretly sad.   

You may not immediately link your shopping addiction to your emotional health, but unhappiness has a major impact on your spending habits. 

While scouring the internet for the best deals, you’re spurred on by the idea of all your new toys being delivered right to your door.

And you actually have something to look forward to, for once!

Then your package arrives and you reach the zenith of your dopamine rush. For a few minutes anyway. Then the thrill wears off and the item is pushed aside as the cycle repeats itself again. 

 It’s true that you can love shopping without being unhappy. However, if you’re already unhappy to begin with, you might be compelled to shop until you drop just to snag a few fleeting moments of joy.

8) Easily distracted

Does this sound like you, or anyone you know? 

Quickly checking your emails somehow becomes hours of scrolling social media.

If you briefly chat with a coworker or get up to grab your water bottle, it’s next to impossible to get yourself back on track.

This happens to me all the time, thanks to ADHD. But if you’re unhappy and struggling, you’ll also fall prey to distraction and all the pitfalls that come along with it.

9) Indecisive 

When someone is unhappy, making even the simplest decisions is anxiety-provoking and overwhelming. 

Simply deciding what to wear or eat for lunch can cause you to become paralyzed with apprehension. That’s because when you’re unhappy, indecisiveness stems from a place of fear. 

10) Isolation

Human beings are social creatures by nature. And studies prove that social interaction can drastically improve your mental and physical health. 

But when people are deeply unhappy they tend to isolate themselves, which is the worst thing they can do.

Isolation is usually a gradual process. Over time, you spend less time with your friends and family because you prefer to be alone. 

You’ll start missing social engagements and stop answering your loved ones’ calls. The idea of interacting with others, even on a superficial level, is abhorrent.

This is what you do when you’re trying to hide your sadness from the world, no matter how counterproductive isolation is when you’re unhappy. 

Final thoughts

People who are unhappy without realizing it are at risk of their problems snowballing because they don’t realize there’s an issue in the first place.

If you recognize the signs that someone is silently unhappy, you can help them pump the brakes and avoid sadness from becoming a more serious problem, like depression.

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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