15 subtle signs someone is deeply unhappy (but is masking it well)

It’s not always easy to tell how somebody’s feeling. 

In fact, a person’s surface mood and behavior is often a mask to how they’re really doing underneath. 

So how can you find out what’s really going on? 

These are the subtle signs that somebody is far from OK  even though they’re doing their best to hide it. 

Let’s take a look…

1) A forced expression 

The secretly unhappy individual often has a feeling of shame or the idea that they “shouldn’t” be down. 

So they try to mask it. 

The most common way they do this is by adopting a socially or professionally acceptable expression. 

Common examples include a big smile, a serious professional pursed-lips look, and a serene expression pretending to be very relaxed.

2) Avoiding eye contact

When somebody isn’t doing too well, they tend to avoid eye contact or not hold it for very long. 

They kind of go through the world without allowing themselves to be looked at too deeply. 

If the eyes are the window to the soul, it makes a lot of sense that somebody whose soul isn’t doing too well doesn’t want anyone peering in. 

3) Turning down invites 

The secretly unhappy person is always too busy to go out or do much. 

They’re engaging in a type of self-isolation and disguising it as being “reserved.”

To be fair, some people just are quite reserved and introverted, but if you notice a person who used to be quite outgoing and now seems to never be around, take notice:

They may well be struggling but pretending everything is fine

4) Dramatic changes in sleep patterns

Sleep is something we do over forty percent of our lives, and it matters enormously. 

When somebody isn’t doing well, their sleep patterns tend to become very jangled. They sleep too much or too little. They become extremely tired at certain times of day or night and wakeful at others. 

It’s like they depart from the “regular” schedule of humanity in some way, often staying up late and sleeping in late. 

5) Complaints of physical aches and pains

Psychosomatic problems are very much real, and those who are secretly unhappy often experience a lot more aches and pains than others. 

They seem to have some low-key ongoing problem that’s always affecting them negatively and keeping them away from doing many active things. 

If physical and medical causes have been ruled out, it’s worth keeping in mind that sometimes the reasons really are emotional and psychological.

This leads to the next point…

6) Disinterest in previously loved activities 

When somebody is secretly unhappy they tune out from things they used to love. 

They are no longer interested and would rather sleep than go to the drop-in volleyball game or join their friends for poker night. 

What they loved to do seems to have faded from the picture. Now they’re just somewhere in the background “doing fine” but seemingly no longer engaged in what they used to enjoy. 

7) Loss of energy and enthusiasm 

If you notice a general lessening of energy and enthusiasm it can often be the sign of somebody who’s secretly unhappy.

The telltale indications may be subtle, but if you look they’re there:

A wan demeanor, a slow gait, stooped posture and a generally apathetic approach to life. 

They insist they’re fine and they’re just “not sleeping well” or have been having “back issues.” And they smile. They’re fine, right?

You want to believe it, but something’s definitely off. 

8) Lessening of hygiene and grooming

When somebody is secretly unhappy they often have a noticeable decline in their appearance and grooming.

It may be a bit subtle, but if you look closely you’ll notice they have sleepy gunk in their eyes and their hair isn’t very kempt…

Their clothes are crinkled up and they look like they just rolled out of bed…

There may also be other unpleasant things like body odor and bad oral hygiene that this person exhibits.

9) Getting hooked on devices and distractions

There are endless social media distractions and clips to watch. 

The secretly unhappy person often takes a deep dive straight off the high board into Tik Tok land, or goes so deep into Instagram reels that they forget where the real world begins. 

They insist they’re doing great, and they post all the right photos and hashtags. 

But where’s the real person underneath all the hashtags? They’re nowhere to be found. 

10) Shutting down conversationally 

Despite doing their best to look like they’re doing fine and say they’re doing fine, this person just isn’t very communicative. 

They nod and smile and say the right thing, but they don’t chip in beyond that. 

They rarely start conversations and seem to be lost in a world of their own. 

11) Binge eating and overindulgence

Delicious food is hard to resist sometimes, as are other fun indulgences like drinking. 

But if you’re looking for signs that a person is secretly unhappy, this is definitely something to watch out for:

They just seem to have almost no self-control

They binge-eat and behave irresponsibly in ways that you wouldn’t normally associate with them or their beliefs. They say they’re doing great, but something about their behavior seems over the top. 

12) Frequent and unusual mood swings 

This person seems to go from euphoric to down in the dumps and you’re never entirely sure why. 

Is it hormonal? Are they exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder?

While these are certainly two options, it’s worth keeping in mind that many erratic and intense moods are actually quite simple:

They’re a sign of somebody who’s just not doing very well in life and is getting completely swept up in the ups and downs without having their own secure center to work from. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as that. 

13) Engaging in addictive behaviors 

Those who are secretly unhappy often turn to addictive behaviors as an escape. 

From compulsive sexual meetups to drinking to gambling to overwork, they find an addiction to distract them from how they’re feeling. 

They insist that all is well, but if you look closely at this person’s behavior and habits you see an increasing dependency on behaviors which are questionable. 

14) Insecurity over decisions

Decisions can be hard for anyone, but they become an agony for those who are secretly struggling. 

The secretly unhappy individual doesn’t feel secure in their own foundation and therefore has even more trouble than usual about deciding their next step. 

Even the smallest decision seems to stress them out and you aren’t quite sure why? Chances are they are unhappy at a deeper level.

15) Avoidance of making future plans

The future isn’t something this person seems to want to discuss. 

Even general discussions about what’s down the road seem to rub them the wrong way. 

They change the subject or laugh it off, ignoring the subject. They may also say they’re not too stressed about any of it and all is well. 

But if you look deeper you see a definite discomfort with talking much about the future or their plans for it. 

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