11 November, 2021

Does your mate seem a bit off lately?

No one likes to see someone they care about struggle, but it can be hard to know how to help. Learning how to recognise the signs a friend might be depressed is a great place to start.

Research shows one in six Australians is currently experiencing depression or anxiety – or both.

Asking your mates about their mental health can help remove the stigma and support them through a tough time. Because let’s face it – with the busyness of everyday life and the craziness of COVID, a lot of us are feeling out of sorts.

We hope you find this advice helpful when your loved one is struggling.


Signs your friend might be depressed

Everyone experiences depression differently. While these behaviours aren’t always an indication of depression or any other mental health condition, they are some signs to look out for if you’re worried about your mate.

  • They’re irritable or moody
  • They appear teary and/or tired
  • They report changes in sleep and/or eating patterns
  • They don’t have as much energy as they normally do
  • They’re engaging in risky behaviour such as substance abuse
  • They report physical issues like headaches or stomach problems
  • They’ve lost interest in the activities or hobbies they normally enjoy
  • They have a negative or hopeless outlook (e.g., “What’s the point?”)
  • They’ve withdrawn and don’t respond to messages or attend social events as often.

These are just some signs your friend may be experiencing depression. Any changes in behaviour and/or mood might indicate they’re facing some challenges, so the best you can do is ask how they’re going.


How to help a friend with depression

A strong support network can make all the difference for someone struggling with their mental health. Here are some ways you can help your mate on the road to recovery.

Learn about depression

Learning the signs and symptoms of depression can help increase your understanding and empathy. It can also help you be patient when they may seem withdrawn or ‘in a bad mood’. Knowing more about the condition is a great first step.

Check in casually

The stigma around mental health and depression is decreasing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not uncomfortable to talk about sometimes. It doesn’t have to be a big deal; you can casually raise the topic during friendly conversation.

Some ways to bring it up might include:

  • How have you been going?
  • You’ve seemed a bit off lately. How are you?
  • Sounds like work/school/home life has been causing you stress. Want to talk about it?

Let them know you care

Offering a non-judgemental ear can help more than you know. Let your mate know you care about them and you’re there if they need to talk.

If you’re not sure what to say during these heavier conversations, a simple “That sounds really hard” or “I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with that” can help validate their feelings.

Don’t forget to follow up and check in with them to see how they’re going.

Encourage them to get help

If you think your mate could use some extra support, you might like to gently encourage them to seek professional help.

Counselling can be a good option for anyone going through a rough patch. RAQ offers confidential counselling in a supportive and respectful environment. Call 1300 364 277 to learn more or make an appointment.

Caring about someone with mental health struggles can be hard, so don’t forget to take care of yourself too.

If you are in an emergency or there is an immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, please call 000.

We offer more advice to talk to a mate about mental health in this blog post.