I'm going through something right now. Am I experiencing everyday emotions, or could this be a mental health condition?

Negative emotions like sadness, fear, and anger can be overwhelming. When you feel bad, it can be hard to have fun, spend time with other people, or try new things. If you feel really bad, you might start to worry that something is wrong. This article will help you understand the difference between everyday emotions and warning signs of a mental health condition. 

Typical Emotions 

What emotions are okay to feel? All of them! Even emotions that make you feel bad are normal and important to have. All emotions give you information and help you to make decisions. If you feel sad about getting into a fight with a friend, your sadness lets you know that your friendship is important to you. If you feel stressed about getting a bad grade on a test, your stress motivates you to study so that you can do better on the next one. Here are some examples of emotions you might experience on a regular day: 

  • Feeling sad, angry, or lonely after having a fight with a friend 
  • Feeling irritated at having to do something you don't want to do, like clean your room 
  • Feeling unmotivated to do things that are hard or confusing 
  • Feeling angry or hurt because someone said something mean to you 
  • Feeling rejected and misunderstood when you are not included in something 
  • Feeling guilty if you did something that you knew was wrong, like cheating 
  • Feeling anxious about a big test or performance 
  • Feeling jealous if your sibling has something nice that you don’t have 
  • Feeling embarrassed after someone laughed at your mistake 
  • Feeling empty if you’re bored or distracted 
  • Feeling grief and sadness after losing someone close to you 
  • Feeling bad after something upsetting happened and then feeling good after something exciting happened 

Typical Reactions 

Even though negative emotions are normal, they are not always easy to deal with. People react to negative emotions in a lot of different ways, including: 

  • Crying  
  • Being quiet 
  • Being irritable 
  • Wanting to be alone 
  • Avoiding hard conversations 
  • Being too unmotivated or distracted to complete tasks 
  • Distracting with things like TV or social media 
  • Not wanting to go to work or school for a day 

These are expected reactions to overwhelming negative emotions. They don’t usually last a long time or get in the way of important things like school and friendships. 

When to Ask for Help 

If your emotions and the ways that you react to them do start getting in the way of important things like school and friendships, you might be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. You should consider asking for help with your mental health if you: 

  • Feel little to no joy when doing things that are usually fun 
  • Have a hard time leaving the house, going to work, or attending school 
  • Are starting to fail classes or let your grades slip 
  • Are getting into a lot of fights with friends and family 
  • Start sleeping way more or way less than you did before 
  • Start eating way more or way less than you did before 
  • Can’t pay attention to anything 
  • Start doing risky or dangerous things without thinking about the consequences 
  • Start using drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings 
  • Have thoughts about hurting yourself 
  • Feel negative emotions like sadness or anger most of the time or all the time 
  • Feel completely numb or empty most of the time or all the time 
  • Are hearing voices that other people don’t hear 
  • Are seeing things that others don’t see 
  • Are thinking about death or suicide 

Asking for Help 

If you're experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, reach out for help as soon as you can. Asking for help can be tough, but it's worth it. Help is available. You can use these articles to find information about getting help for your mental health: 

Hours of operation Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. EST 

Call: 800-950-NAMI (6264) 

Text: 62640 

Webchat: www.nami.org/help  

Email: helpline@nami.org

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