It can be difficult to tell how much emotional pain a loved one is experiencing, even if you are close to them. Many times, people have trouble expressing themselves, or don't want to trouble those around them with their problems. Perhaps you have noticed something different about something, or have a feeling that something is wrong. Sometimes, emotional distress can turn into something worse, such as depression, so it's very important to recognize if someone needs help. There are some signs that may signal that someone is in need of support.

They Don’t Care Anymore
Sometimes people feel so low, they just want to be alone. They don't call as much, if at all, or respond to calls or texts. This person may stop spending time with friends and family, cancel plans or don't show up. They might stop showing interest in hobbies or recreational activities that they enjoy, and may experience more stress with work. Projects fall away, and they don't seem to be enjoying themselves when they do engage in activities or social gatherings.

Appearance Changes
Sometimes people stop taking care of themselves when they are feeling down. They may stop styling their hair or shaving, or skip the makeup. They may gain or lose weight due to changing eating patterns. Disrupted sleeping patterns can cause them to look worn down.

Some people may have signs of self-injury or harm. There could be physical signs such as cuts or bandages, or unnecessary layers of clothing to hide them.

They're Moody and Anxious
Someone may be signaling that they need help if they experience panic attacks, general anxiety, exhibit extreme mood swings, or have outbursts. They might seem hopeless or sad, and cry easily. They forget things, can't seem to concentrate or pay attention, and can't seem to relax.

These things may make them seem very guilty and shameful, and they may began to speak negatively about themselves or situations, becoming very pessimistic.

They Attempt to Self-Medicate
Many people choose to attempt to self-medicate instead of seeking help. You may notice someone using drugs or alcohol more frequently, or for the first time. They may began to spend time with people or in places that they otherwise wouldn't.

If you notice a loved one showing these signs, they may need help, and they may be too scared to ask for it. They may not even really notice themselves. If you are concerned about a loved one, sit down and talk to them. Let them know you care and are there for them. If your loved one has a drinking problem, you may need to stage an alcohol intervention to encourage them to pursue treatment.

There are many resources available for people who need help coping with mental illness, such as counseling services, hotlines, and support groups, even online support groups through social media. The important thing others can do to support them is notice the signs, get educated on the cause(s), and develop a plan.

Most importantly, stay in contact and continue to support them during their healing process. Having support and a safe place to turn to is essential to the healing process.

Author's Bio: 

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism. She interviews with small businesses and educational institutions regularly to learn new career building strategies.