6 Signs Someone Is Secretly in Pain

Do you know someone who changed their behavior abruptly?

Are they now easily angered and always talking about dark topics?

Every person has a different reaction to trauma and pain. When encountered, this type of behavior may startle you. This is why it’s good to learn in advance about it and what to do when the situation arises.

Here are six signs to look out for if you think someone is secretly in pain.

FRIENDLY DISCLAIMER: This is a disclaimer that this article/video is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.

1. They become silent.

Do you notice them suddenly go uncharacteristically quiet?

The type of quiet where they no longer reply to your messages, don’t engage in social media, or don’t communicate with you the way they used to?

It might be that they’re introverted in nature, but there is a difference between being introverted and having a character change.

If you feel like there’s something wrong, there is a chance are they are hurting inside and facing a personal problem.

People usually withdraw themselves from social interaction due to a form of past trauma.

It’s a form of protection and prevention against any emotional triggers or problematic situations.

They feel safer when they’re alone, so they do exactly just that, even if it comes at the cost of isolating themselves away from their own friend groups.

But although space is important, social isolation is dangerous.

Studies have found that social isolation increases the risk for health problems to the same degree as having an alcohol use disorder or smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Ellis, 2019).

When you know someone who is acting like this, it is very important to reach out to them.

It may be uncomfortable – you might even receive a negative reaction – but it is important.

Tell them that you are there for them and you’re ready to listen to them if they would like to open up.

If you don’t know what to say, it’s okay.

Your mere presence is already a huge help.

2. They lash out.

Photo by Inga Seliverstova from Pexels

When someone is in pain, they tend to become short-tempered.

They may become easily irritable and will possibly badmouth you or push you away when you reach out to them.

Before you get startled, try to understand that this behavior is normal.

Understand that they are coming from a place of hurt and that they’re doing this because they don’t know how to process their pain in a healthy way.

So what do they do? They project it outwards.

In this situation, your response is the most important thing to consider.

Hurting them back would not help. It would only cause a bigger fight and make them withdraw further into themselves.

Instead, try to give space between the two of you. Just enough that you can still help them when they need it.

It’s natural for you to feel irritated or angry, but try to keep in mind that this journey of healing will not be easy and quick.

You are there to help them. And this is just a part of the process.

You can either choose to stay silent or talk it out with them. Tell them how you feel, and say that you understand where you’re coming from.

You can say: Thank you for opening up to me. Although what you said didn’t make me feel good, I understand where you are coming from. If you want someone to talk to, I’m always here.

When you receive pain – stop, breathe, and counter it with love.

3. They become reckless.

Photo by Vitalina from Pexels

Do you notice them engaging in destructive, risky behavior?

There are good times to take risks. It’s a part of life, and the experience helps you become stronger and more confident.

However, if someone is being oddly reckless or more rash than usual, they’re most likely using it as a defense mechanism or an escape from being hurt.

It comes in a lot of forms.

Sometimes, it’s smoking, drinking, and binge-eating.

Other times, it’s them no longer taking baths, foregoing personal hygiene, and refusing to clean their rooms.

For smokers, the nicotine that comes from cigarettes stimulates the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain (Mental Health Foundation, n.d.).

Dopamine is involved in triggering happy feelings (Mental Health Foundation, n.d.), so people smoke to feel good despite its risks.

If someone you know is behaving like this, it helps to talk it out with them or find alternative activities.

There will be times when they don’t want to talk. If they do, that’s great! But if they would rather do something else, you can join them or encourage them to watch a movie, play video games, or do stuff that can entertain them or take their mind off of things.

Don’t be afraid to still have fun with them!

4. They talk about dark topics a lot.

Have they ever mentioned death, being useless, and the like?

Although you might find it alarming, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re suicidal.

But it always helps to ask if they want to talk about it.

People who are facing emotional disturbance or past trauma tend to feel hopeless.

They’re more likely to think about their own lives and their meaning.

They feel that because of their bad experiences, there’s little or even nothing they could do to make things better.

Try consulting with them regularly and offering to give them support whenever they need it. 

It probably won’t help to book them with a therapist if they’re not ready to do so.

Right now, you are the best thing you can offer.

So when the time comes when they’re prepared, you’re by their side in their road to healing.

5. They become increasingly paranoid.

Photo by elifskies from Pexels

Do they display signs of abundant fear?

Are they nitpicking everything and becoming more cynical by the day?

Repressed emotional pain can resurface in the form of paranoia and anxiety (Phoebe, 2021).

This means that they’re paranoid about every single thing because they don’t want to be triggered by previous traumatic experiences.

For example, they may not want to hang out with your friend group anymore because they’re reminded of a big fight that happened and the hurtful words exchanged during it.

Because of this, they probably will be anxious about meeting people and may start to develop trust issues.

When you know someone who is like this, you might find their fears irrational and absurd.

That is why it helps to get a background of why they feel that way.

Try to keep your mind open and put yourself in their shoes.

What do you think brought them to that point?

If you were in their situation, how would you react?

It’s critical to not dismiss their paranoia. 

Validate their feelings, tell them that you understand – or that although you don’t understand what they’re going through, your love and respect for them won’t change.

Respect their boundaries if they don’t want to talk about it, but make yourself known as an option for help.

6. They’re always tired.

Photo by Whicdhemein One from Pexels

Do you notice them sleeping a lot or looking gaunt?

When people encounter a bad or traumatic event, they’re prone to aftershock reactions such as concentration difficulty and fatigue.

They might not want to get out of bed, eat, and take care of themselves.

When this happens, it’s good to let them do things that feel natural to them. If it’s sleeping, then it’s good to let it be.

It’s important that they get a lot of rest and know that their support group is within reach.

If they don’t want to eat, try offering to feed them or try cooking them food. If they don’t want to take a bath, you can prepare hot water in the tub and gently urge them to wash, even if it’s just for a while.

Make yourself known to them and do what you can to help when the opportunity presents itself.

Recovery may take a while, and it may vary from person to person, but the fact that you know you matter and that you are of assistance to their healing process is significant.

“Keep reaching out your hand.” – Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Silver Flames


Do you know someone who is displaying these symptoms?

If you are, then try not to be overwhelmed.

There is always something you can do to help them.

And if you’re the one who is in pain, please remember that we and other people are always here to help you, too.

We hope you learned a lot from this article. If you know people who may relate or learn from this, please don’t hesitate to share it with them.

Thank you for reading. See you next time.




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