The past year has been a challenging time for many of us, and more people than ever before are struggling to cope with their day-to-day life. We all want to be there for our friends during difficult periods, but sometimes people aren’t willing to express that they need help or are having a rough time. Whether it’s due to shame or fear of looking weak, it’s very common for people struggling with their mental health to keep their feelings hidden. However, today we’re here to share with you the top signs that someone may be struggling. If you spot any of these signs in one of your friends, make sure you reach out to them and ask them how they are really doing. This may open up a deeper conversation, and hopefully, they’ll know that there’s always someone available to talk to.
Your Friend Stops Communicating
One of the most common signs that someone is struggling is that they begin to shut off from the world around them. Whether they have started to ignore your calls or messages or are just very quick and blunt in their replies, this is a sign that something is up. While it’s easy to take things personally and believe you may have done something wrong, if you know that’s not the case, your friend may just be overwhelmed with their life at the moment and unable to express how they really feel. Most people who are struggling find it impossible to admit the truth to even their closest friends or their partner, and it’s only after a long time that they finally crack and admit how they have really been feeling recently.
They Become Very Needy
On the other hand, your friend may act in the complete opposite way and suddenly seem very needy or want more attention and communication. This is often a sign of loneliness or unhappiness, and with many people feeling cut off and isolated during the recent pandemic, this has become a regular occurrence. While it’s flattering that your friend wants to talk to you more, we all have busy lives, and sometimes that may be impossible for you. Check in with your friend and ask them how they are doing and if anything has changed recently. Especially after difficult events such as a break-up or losing a job, this is more likely to happen to fill the void left in their life.
Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
We all have something we turn to when we are struggling to cope, but for some people, these habits and choices are very damaging to their health. If your friend is beginning to rely on alcohol, smoking, drugs, or other damaging substances, that’s a clear cry for help. While many people use these to relax, they should always be consumed in moderation and with care. If your friend is doing anything to put their health at risk, this is a huge warning sign of depression or anxiety, and you’ll want to try and step in and talk to them about what’s going on. Sometimes people don’t even realize they are relying on something until it’s pointed out to them, and that may be the nudge they need to return to a more balanced life.
Struggling mentally can be extremely exhausting on your whole body. If you notice your friend constantly seems exhausted or complains they haven’t been sleeping well for a while, then chances are something is keeping them up at night. Excessive worry and stress can quickly disrupt your sleeping pattern, which in turn makes it far more challenging to cope during the daytime with how you are feeling. Encourage your friend to cultivate a more calming night-time routine, which may help them catch up on some much-needed sleep so they can better cope with what’s going on in their life.
Dropping Out of Plans
If you notice your friend is suddenly very apathetic to plans or is constantly flaking on their obligations, more than likely, something is going on in their personal life. Whether they are just too exhausted to be around other people or can’t summon up enthusiasm for anything they don’t have to do, this is a clear sign your friend is struggling. While it can be challenging not to get frustrated when this happens, especially if it directly affects you, try to be patient and understanding with your friend at all times.
If your friend is showing any of these signs listed above, there’s a strong chance they are struggling with their mental health or another stressful situation in their life. Most of the time, our friends just need someone to speak to, but if they are showing signs of depression, anxiety, or another mental health challenge, encourage them to seek professional help. Your friend may just need someone to listen to their troubles, who won’t judge or criticize their feelings. You can be there to ask questions and listen, but let them come to their own conclusions instead of forcing your advice onto them. Remind your friend there’s no shame in getting the help they need and that you’ll be there to support them throughout the process.