20 Very Unexpected Symptoms of Mental Illnesses You Probably Never Knew

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Mental illness in the United States is surprisingly common. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 43.8 million people experience mental illness a year. That’s 18.5 percent, or (to be more precise) one in five people. Even more alarming, most of these illnesses aren’t immediately visible. While people may experience a lot of stereotypical symptoms, there are however, some other warning signs that are not as apparent.

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America, and it’s also one of the most easily missed. While most people would describe it as a prolonged period of sadness, it’s much more than that, and it’s definitely not one you can “snap out of” as many people erroneously think. It also has some very strange symptoms.

People with depression are more likely to use first person pronouns such as I, me and myself instead of the second and third person like he, she and them. Scientists theorize that this is because depressed people are more likely to focus inwards than outwards. Oh, and they use negative adjectives and adverbs like “hurt”, “lonely” or “miserable” a lot.

Depressed people are less likely to use filters on Instagram when they post pictures, but when they do, they tend to choose black and white filters. They were also less likely to post pictures of their faces.

Depressed people spend a lot of time in bed, and when they do sleep, they wake up tired, and no wonder. Many depressed people suffer from rumination, or cycling thoughts, so imagine having to constantly fight a mental battle that doesn’t allow you to sleep properly.

Most people associate depression with deep sadness, but did you know that apathy, or a lack of emotion, is a symptom too? If you’re just going through the motions with no interest in anything for days on end, this might be a sign of depression.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive illness, is a mental disorder characterized by unusual shifts in “mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” There are four types of bipolar disorder, but they’re all characterized by those visible changes in mood, etc.

Bipolar disorder is not just aggressive mood swings, part of it can be psychosis as well, which is described as a “break with reality.” According to New Life Outlook,
A psychotic break can often involve delusions or false beliefs that a person believes to be true despite lack of evidence, or evidence to the contrary. These might include the belief that one is a god, is impoverished, is being controlled by other people or forces, that one’s thoughts are being read by an outside force, or even that one’s spouse or partner is having an affair — that one is particularly painful; I’ve suffered from it on several occasions.

A key part of bipolar disorder is cycling between depression and mania. But not all mania is full-blown. Hypomania, which can be described as an elevated mood, is not as obvious as full-on mania. You might be more sociable and more confident, but not so much that you turn people off.

Find yourself feeling aroused more often or having the urge to sleep with way more people? It might be your bipolar disorder talking. If you suddenly can’t keep it in your pants you might be in the mania portion of your illness.

Are you suddenly Mr/Mrs. Big Spender? Do you find yourself buying all sorts of things you actually don’t need and didn’t plan for? Then you might be in the throes of illness. Ditto that sudden urge to gamble away your savings.

Schizophrenia is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses around, because, in its most aggressive form, it’s also one of the most visible. According to the National Institute of Mental Health,
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

People typically think schizophrenics are hyper-emotional people prone to outbursts and other startling behaviors, but did you know that an emotionless affect can be part of the disorder too? If someone you know often exhibits a flat, emotionless gaze, maybe its time to get them checked.

Do you suddenly feel suspicious of family and friends, and even that neighbor who you’re now sure is up to no good? One of the most common, but unexpected symptoms of schizophrenia is suspicion of others.

Some people laugh when they’re uncomfortable. Others laugh when they want to cry. If you find yourself always laughing at the most unexpected, inappropriate moments, however, this might be a sign of mental illness.

Remember roses? Those no longer smell so good. And chocolate tastes like ashes in your mouth. If you suddenly find familiar smells and flavors changing around you, it might be time to schedule a checkup.  

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.” There are several types of anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, but all of these involve feelings of anxiety that don’t go away and get worse with time.

Do you find yourself sweating for no reason? If it’s cold, the AC is on blast, and yet, buckets of sweat keep pouring down, you might be experiencing a very unexpected but common symptom of anxiety.

One of the most alarming, but common symptoms of anxiety is nausea. If you suddenly feel like you can’t keep your food down, you might be experiencing an acute attack.

If you find yourself hyperventilating, and can’t get air into your lungs, you might be experiencing a panic attack. Try to take slow, deep breaths and to do a nice long stretch. Drinking ice cold water also helps.

Have you ever felt like it’s the end and you don’t know why? An overwhelming feeling of imminent death could be sign of a panic attack, and it’s one of the most alarming symptoms you can experience.