5 Signs Someone is Not Actually “I’m Fine”

Are you worried that someone in your life may be struggling with their mental health, even if they say otherwise?

Your friend and loved one may tell you that they are fine, but perhaps you have observed differently. 

They may not be aware of how deeply they are suffering, or they may simply not be ready to discuss how they feel, or are unable to express it. 

Although it is important not to jump to conclusions regarding how others feel, and equally important not to do so in order to judge them, at times, your intuition about how your loved one feels can be traced to a valid concern worth bringing up with them.

This article is not intended to diagnose or self-treat. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling. 

Please read the concluding remarks for a full disclaimer.

With that being said, here are 5 Signs Someone is Not Actually “I’m Fine.”

1. Mood changes 

Does your loved one say they’re alright, but seem to have had a drastic change in mood lately? 

Perhaps their moods shift more easily and more dramatically. Do they break down over what seem to be the smallest things? Do they become sad or angry more easily, with their emotions seeming disproportionate to the issue at hand? 

Or perhaps instead of rapid shifts in mood, you notice that their emotions are more extreme than usual. Do they get excessively angry, or even violent? Do they appear to be deeply sad? Maybe they even have difficulty expressing joy. Perhaps they seem down most of the time, or are constantly anxious. Perhaps their nervousness has reached new heights lately. If so, they may not be doing as well as they are ready to say (American Psychiatric Association, 2018; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021; Mindful Tom, 2021; Morin, 2021 & Riggio, 2015).

2. Withdrawal from activities

Has your loved one been withdrawing from activities? They may have told you that they are doing just fine, but have you observed that they no longer participate in the hobbies that you know they used to enjoy? Perhaps you’ve noticed that they stopped going to the dance classes that they used to love, or are never in the mood to go to the movies when it used to be their favorite pastime. 

Either in lieu of or in addition to withdrawing from their interests, you may have noticed that they withdraw from social activities. Do they constantly turn down invites? Do they perhaps accept invites, but then keep cancelling plans? Have they been spending an unhealthy amount of time alone? Before assuming that they may no longer want you in their life, consider the possibility that they could be struggling with personal issues—even if they tell you otherwise (American Psychiatric Association, 2018; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021; Mindful Tom, 2021; Morin, 2021 & Riggio, 2015).

3. Difficulty concentrating

Has your loved one been “out of it” recently? Maybe they appear more spaced out, and have greater difficulty focusing and concentrating. This may make itself known in the tasks they have been trying to accomplish, which you might observe as a classmate or colleague. 

Alternatively, they may seem to be less attentive during conversations. They might seem distracted, confused, or more forgetful. 

It might not be that they are particularly disinterested in you. If they seem uncharacteristically distracted, in addition to other worrisome behaviors and changes, they may be grappling with personal issues and feeling lost in their own mind (American Psychiatric Association, 2018; Morin, 2021).

4. Drop in functioning (school, work, etc.) 

This difficulty in concentrating can also contribute to another sign, which is an unusual drop in their functioning at school or work, or in social and/or extra-curricular activities. They could also have a harder time coping with problems and daily tasks, getting more stressed than usual over day-to-day hurdles and fumbling over them frequently. 

Has your friend been failing tests at school or getting uncharacteristically low grades? Have they been underperforming at work, or in the sports team you’re both in? If this drop in functioning is unusually drastic, and unusual for them, they could be working through personal issues at the moment (American Psychiatric Association, 2018; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021).

5. Decline in physical health and personal care

Do you observe that your loved one has been neglecting physical health and personal care? You may have noticed that they are more tired than usual, due to a lack of proper sleep, or from sleeping too much. Perhaps while spending mealtimes with them fairly regularly, you may have noticed a drastic change in their appetite.

Do they seem to have lost concern over their well-being? Aside from the will to eat and sleep properly, they may have also begun to neglect their personal hygiene and appearance more and more. They may also be engaging in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse. 

This lack of concern for themselves, manifested in different ways, could have thus raised concern in you, understandably so. Your loved one may either simply be stressed out, or struggling with their mental health (American Psychiatric Association, 2018; Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021; Morin, 2021 & Riggio, 2015).

Concluding Remarks

It is important to remember that one or two of these signs alone won’t necessarily predict mental illness, but may indicate a need for further evaluation. It is unadvisable to take one sign alone out of context. 

If you suspect that your loved one may be struggling with their mental health, it is recommended that you seek a full evaluation from a qualified professional (American Psychiatric Association, 2018).


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021, December 14). Mental health: What’s normal, what’s not. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/mental-health/art-20044098 

Mindful Tom. (2021, December 4). 6 Signs You Should Check In on a Friend’s Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/CXCG1Q8s9FI/?utm_medium=copy_link.

Morin, A. (2021, February 17). Mental Illness Types, Symptoms, and Diagnosis. Verywell Mind. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/definition-of-mental-illness-4587855#toc-signs-and-symptoms 

Riggio, R. E. (2015, May 5). 5 warning signs of mental health risk. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201505/5-warning-signs-mental-health-risk 

Warning Signs of Mental Illness. American Psychiatric Association. (2018, July). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness 

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