Why Am I Never Happy? How To Determine If You Might Be Living With Mental Illness

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 1, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

It may not be unusual to feel sad occasionally, as sadness is a natural human emotion. However, if you feel you are never happy or have never experienced happiness, you might be dealing with a more significant underlying challenge. 

If you're struggling to remember the last time you felt happy, you might be living with a mental illness. Understanding the signs of mental illness may help you know when to reach out for a screening or talk to a professional. You're not alone, and support is available.

Getty/MoMo Productions
Mental illness can present itself in many ways

Signs you may be living with a mental illness

One out of five adults in the United States has a diagnosed mental illness, and more may go undiagnosed. Due to stigma, lack of access to care, and other barriers, some people might not know they're experiencing signs of a mental illness. Below are a few indicators of living with a mental illness. If you relate to these indicators, you might benefit from contacting a licensed mental health provider for an assessment.

You worry excessively

Excessive worry indicates that you might be dealing with a mental health condition. Worrying can be healthy, as it may prompt you to make healthy changes. However, worrying to the point where you can't function optimally or connect with others may indicate a mental illness. 

Worrying is often associated with anxiety disorders. Those who worry that something unpleasant will happen to them or have a sense of dread for no apparent reason might be experiencing generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you can attribute your worry to a specific source and calm down when needed, you might be experiencing healthy forms of worry. However, you may be living with anxiety if you feel fearful, worried, and anxious daily.

You’re sad every day

Sadness is a healthy emotion, and everyone can experience it. However, it could be a sign of an underlying challenge if you feel sad every day. Profound sadness is a significant sign of mental illness, particularly major depressive disorder (MDD) or other depressive disorders.  

You struggle to concentrate

Mental illness can also make it difficult to concentrate on tasks. People who experience anxiety disorders often report a lack of focus. Your mind might be muddled, and it could be wandering to current challenges or social conflicts. If you have racing thoughts, constant worries, and difficulty focusing, you might be living with an anxiety disorder or a condition like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

You experience mood swings

Mood swings can be another sign of mental illness. People can have mood swings and not have a mental illness, but frequent mood swings may indicate a mood disorder, like bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by switches between manic (high energy) states and depression. Some people only experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. You can take a bipolar disorder screening to start the process of finding professional support if you believe you may be living with this condition.

You often avoid social situations

Some people experience intense fear of avoidance of social situations. This withdrawal or fear might negatively impact your relationships and cause you to miss out on desired activities. Mental illness often causes people to want to pull away and withdraw from society. A few mental illnesses that can impact social behavior include the following: 

  • Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) 
  • Schizoid personality disorder (SPD) 
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) 
  • Post-partum depression (PPD)
Getty/AnnaStills

Your sex drive changes

If your partner or spouse has noticed that your sex drive has changed, you might consider why this is occurring. For some, a lower libido might mean you're not interested in sex. However, if this change feels odd, it might be a sign of mental illness. Conditions like major depression can make getting aroused or feeling pleasure difficult. Conditions like anxiety can make people fearful about sex, and conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to sexual trauma can cause an aversion to sex and traumatic memories caused by sex. 

If you are experiencing sexual abuse or have experienced assault, note that the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has a hotline dedicated to supporting individuals experiencing sexual assault, harassment, or intimate partner violence. You can contact them anytime by calling 800-656-HOPE (4673) or using the online chat. 

You experience difficulty in enjoying previously enjoyed activities

Mental illness can often cause individuals to feel apathy or a lack of pleasure in activities they used to enjoy. This symptom is most common in depressive disorders. If you're not feeling up to your old hobbies, consider contacting a licensed therapist for guidance.

You struggle to complete daily routines

Experiencing a mental illness can reduce your energy for daily activities. When you struggle to wake up in the morning, you may not feel energetic enough to cope with daily responsibilities. Daily responsibilities may include tasks like cleaning or doing laundry. However, despite this symptom, some health services are in place that may be able to support you as you revitalize your schedule.

Getty/AnnaStills
Mental illness can present itself in many ways

Support options 

Therapy may be a valuable resource if you feel you're never happy. However, it can be stressful to feel like therapy is out of reach, whether due to financial reasons or other barriers. In these cases, you might try online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp. 

You can connect with a counselor from home via live chat, messaging, voice call, or videoconference through an online platform. In addition, you can reach out to your therapist anytime. If you want to discuss a topic, have a question, or want to chat, send a message, and your therapist can get back to you when they're able.  

Some studies point to online counseling as an effective means of providing mental healthcare to those experiencing difficult emotions, such as discontent or a lack of fulfillment. In one comprehensive review, researchers looked at the effects of online therapy on anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Results showed that online therapy effectively treated post-traumatic stress disorder, panic, and anxiety, with results similar to in-person counseling studies. 

Counselor reviews

“Shayna has been a huge help for me. She helped me with a lot of issues that I struggled with and is helping me to pave the pathway for more happiness. After meeting with her for a couple of months the quality of my life has improved greatly and so has my mental health. I definitely recommend her and BetterHelp to anyone seeking help.”

“I put off finding a therapist for a long time. I dreaded my first conversation with Neil and all the awkward, clunky explanations I'd have to give about my depression and anxiety. All of the things that felt like dirty little secrets that caused me so much pain. But I was so pleasantly surprised by the way Neil accurately picked up on what I was saying and gave me more insight into how my brain was working. It made my issue feel so much less of a personal problem and more of a universal problem we could examine together. He always gives me a thoughtful response within a day or two any time I send a message. I actually think we've made more progress in between sessions just by being able to communicate things that are coming up in real-time. Neil is intelligent and kind. I really appreciate his communication style and highly recommend him.”

Takeaway

Happiness might feel elusive, but it may not be that way indefinitely. You can work with your therapist to develop coping mechanisms to increase moments of joy in your life. You're not alone, and there are various forms of treatment available. Consider reaching out to a mental health provider for further guidance. 
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