During your time at University, you may form close bonds with your housemates, course mates and those in your clubs and societies. At times, you might notice that they are behaving differently or struggling with University life and require support.
There are ways to recognise potential symptoms of depression. Here are a few different signs to look for.
Recognising the problem in a friend
Losing interest – They may not be as interested in things that they used to enjoy.
Sadness – They may seem very down and feel hopeless about aspects of their life.
Lethargy – They may show signs of having slower speech and movements.
Agitated – They may appear to be more fidgety and restless than usual.
Exhaustion – They may feel more tired, describing low energy levels.
Changes in appetite - They may be eating too much or not wanting to eat enough.
Changes to sleep pattern – They may be sleeping more than usual or not able to sleep enough.
Difficulty concentrating – They may not be able to focus on everyday things, such as watching the television or reading a magazine.
What you can do to help
Show you care - Let them know you are worried and that you are here to listen to them.
Be sensitive to how they are feeling - Accept them for who they are and don’t judge them for what they may tell you. Remember to ask them what would be helpful to them. Don’t just assume you know what they need.
Encourage – You can gently encourage them to look after their wellbeing. This may be making improvements in their sleep pattern, the amount they exercise, what they eat or even what they do to relax. Remember to be patient; your friend may find exercise or social interaction harder for them to do and more of a challenge to get started.
Help them to get support – You could research help available to them in the University or through local support groups. Again be patient; they may need some time to get used to the idea of seeking help.
Stay in touch – Keep in contact with them regularly and help them to get out of the house more often. This can help to prevent them from feeling isolated.
How to get support for yourself
The responsibility for keeping someone safe and happy ultimately falls on the individual. Here are some ways to be able to support your friends effectively.
- Be honest with what your time limits are and set some boundaries.
- Encourage your friend to build up a support network to include other friends and family.