Determining What The Problem Is When You Don’t Feel Like Yourself

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated October 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Feeling off, unhappy, or not yourself can be a difficult and confusing experience, especially during an emotional year. It might be hard to understand why you're feeling this way and even harder to know how to improve your mood. While the root causes of these emotions can vary widely, from school problems to personal issues, attempting to track them down can often be an important first step in figuring out how to feel better.

Let’s examine a few common causes of feeling off, along with strategies you can try to address it.

Struggling With Unhappiness And Unsure Of The Root Cause?

Common Reasons For Feeling Unusual

The reason you’re feeling unusual or unhappy could have many different causes. However, there are some common ones that you may identify with and can then seek solutions for. 

Mental Health Conditions

Having a mental health condition can affect how you feel and how you see the world. With depression, for instance, you might feel unusually hopeless, worthless, sad, and/or withdrawn. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you might feel irritable, hypervigilant, and/or emotionally detached. Even high levels of stress can affect your body and mind, leading to feeling dazed, forgetful, and/or easily angered. Learning more about common mental health conditions, their types, and their symptoms or seeking out a mental health professional for evaluation can help you identify whether you may be experiencing a mental illness and address your needs.

Challenging Life Circumstances

Another common cause of not feeling like yourself is facing difficult life circumstances. If you’ve recently lost your job, are experiencing relationship challenges, financial troubles, or are otherwise going through a difficult time, it’s not unusual to not feel like yourself. Going through situations like these may cause ongoing and/or high levels of stress which can impact your mental health and lead to sleepless nights, and questions about the future.

Past Trauma

Trauma and other difficult past experiences can also impact how a person feels today, even if the events took place years or decades ago.

In some cases, these memories may have been with you since the event occurred. In others, strong feelings associated with the memory may surface later in life because of a trigger. Either way, coping with the effects of past trauma can be difficult and may make you feel off or unhappy in the present, especially on certain days or anniversaries.


How To Identify Why You Feel Off

Pinpointing the root cause of feeling off may be challenging, especially if multiple factors are playing a role. However, understanding where these feelings might be coming from can help you understand what steps to take to help yourself feel better. One way to try and uncover the source of your feelings is through self-reflection and introspection. This process may involve taking time at home to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and behavior to identify any patterns or triggers that may be contributing to your unhappiness. Journaling might also be a helpful tool for self-discovery. Additionally, seeking the support of a mental health professional or joining a free support group may help you uncover valuable insights. They can help you examine feelings and patterns and provide you with strategies to address any underlying issues.

Tips For Addressing Feelings Of Unhappiness

Tips For Addressing Feelings Of Unhappiness

Whether you’ve been able to precisely pinpoint the reason you feel off or not, there are still steps you can take to try and improve your mood and well-being. For instance, you might consider the following list of strategies:

  • Manage stress. If you’re experiencing high or ongoing stress levels in your life, developing healthy coping skills such as eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising regularly can help. Research also suggests that cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice can help individuals manage stress, even just dedicating an hour a day to self-care, like going for a quick run.

  • Build a support system. Having loved ones you can lean on when you’re not feeling like yourself can also be helpful. Building a social network of friends, family, and people who you can talk to and get support from can be invaluable when you’re going through a tough time.

  • Find meaning. Unhappiness can sometimes result from a lack of a sense of purpose in one’s life. If this resonates with you, you might try exploring new passions or hobbies or joining an open group or club to find new avenues of joy and fulfillment.

  • Set goals. Sometimes, feeling stuck or stagnant can make us feel unhappy. If you’re looking to change something about your life or achieve a long-held dream, you might set “SMART” goals to help you take meaningful steps to get there, in a structured order to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

  • Be wary of social media: Using social media excessively and comparing yourself to others can worsen feelings of unhappiness, so consider setting limits or taking breaks to prioritize your mental health.

  • Use available resources for mental health: Don’t hesitate to reach out to various organizations and local resource centers for support. Mental health organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness offer various tools and resources to support well-being. If feelings become too overwhelming, consider reaching out to a Suicide Prevention hotline for immediate help.

These are just some examples of ways to manage mental health. However, they shouldn't replace professional medical advice. Any advice, diagnosis, or treatment should come from a qualified professional. In some cases, you might also want to consult a healthcare provider who can provide medical solutions for physical ailments that may be contributing to poor mental health.

iStock/SDI Productions
Struggling With Unhappiness And Unsure Of The Root Cause?

How Therapy Can Help

Meeting with a therapist is another way you might examine what has you feeling off and discover strategies for change. They might help you identify situations or thought patterns that may be contributing to your unhappiness and uncover ways to manage or shift them. They can also assist you in setting realistic goals, devising self-care strategies, and developing a new, more balanced perspective on your situation that might benefit your healing process. Rest assured, therapists are committed to safeguarding identity and discreetness in every session.

If you’d feel more comfortable meeting with a therapist online instead of in person, there are options available. Research suggests that online therapy can offer similar benefits to in-person sessions in many cases, which means you can generally choose the format that feels right for you. With a virtual counseling platform like BetterHelp, for instance, you can get matched with a licensed therapist who you can speak with via phone calls, video calls, and/or online chat to address the challenges you may be facing. All you need is a wi-fi-enabled device and a stable internet connection, making this type of therapy more convenient and reachable for many.


Each person’s journey toward health and finding happiness or contentment or feeling like themselves again is different. Examining why you might be feeling off, be it due to external factors or something else, can help you figure out what steps to take to help yourself feel better. If you’re looking for guidance and support in this process, you might consider meeting with a trained mental health professional who can offer advice, diagnosis, or treatment options, such as therapy or medications. Remember, mental health issues are not your fault, and help is available.

Seeking To Improve Your Mental Health?

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started