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Six signs my friend is depressed (and how I can help)

Have you noticed your friend doesn’t seem themselves? Perhaps they don’t seem to enjoy activities they used to like? Or they’re overreacting to minor things.

Depression is not always obvious and there can be many signs that a friend is feeling depressed. Often it’s not a single change but a combination of things. So how do you know if your friend is depressed? Here are six common signs.


Six signs my friend is depressed

1. They act differently

Does it suddenly seem like your friend is a different person? Have they started withdrawing when they used to be friendly and talkative? Perhaps you’ve noticed they get angry at the smallest of things, or suddenly burst into tears.

A change in behaviour is one of the most common signs of depression. A depressed person struggles with everyday life and getting through the day. If your friend is feeling down, they’re probably getting frustrated with the struggles they’re facing each day.


2. They only see the negatives

If your friend used to be quite confident about life but now only has bad things to say about themselves, it could be a sign of depression. Losing self-confidence is a common sign of depression, and often people can’t see the positives in any situation nor in themselves. This resource looks at ways to break negative thought loops.


3. They’re drinking more  

People who are feeling depressed may use drugs or alcohol as a way of coping. Using these substances can also contribute to mental illness. According to Beyond Blue, over 500,000 Australians will experience a depression and substance abuse disorder at the same time at some point in their lives. If you’ve noticed your friend is drinking more or is taking drugs, they could be using it to cope with their feelings of sadness or loneliness.


4. They’re not showing up for things they used to enjoy

Has your friend stopped turning up for activities they used to enjoy? Does it feel like you never see them anymore? This could be a sign they’re not feeling like their usual selves. Not wanting to spend time with the people they love and losing interest in the activities they used to enjoy can be a telltale sign of depression.


5. Their appetite has changed

Either eating more or less than usual could be another sign that your friend may be suffering from depression. Some people use food as a way of comforting themselves when their mood is low. Others lose their appetite when they’re feeling upset.


6. They seem tired

Has your friend told you they’re having trouble getting to sleep at night? Or perhaps they go to sleep but wake up in the middle of the night and are awake for hours? Fatigue and decreased energy is a common symptom of depression.


I think my friend is depressed? What should I do?

If you think your friend is depressed, there are some things you can do to help.

First, try to talk to them about their feelings and ask if there is anything wrong. Say that you’ve noticed that they don’t seem themselves and reassure that you’re there for them. You could encourage them to seek professional help either by visiting their GP or health professional, or encourage them to call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Here are some other ways to help:

  • If they choose to get some professional help, you could accompany them to the appointments
  • You could organise some activities together that you’d both enjoy
  • You could start a weekly exercise routine together
  • You could cook some healthy meals for them or get together to cook.


If your friend talks about suicide, it’s very important that you encourage them to get help right away. This resource will give you some more information on how to help.


If you need someone to talk to, you can also phone the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 to speak to a counsellor.

If it is an emergency, please call 000.