Recognizing When a Friend or Loved One is Struggling

A recent thread on Reddit was “What screams "I´m not doing so well mentally"?”  Recognizing signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health is important, as early intervention and support can make a significant difference in helping someone cope with their challenges. Here are some common signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health:

Emotional and Behavioral Changes:

  1. Mood Swings: Frequent or intense changes in mood, such as sudden bouts of sadness, irritability, or euphoria.
  2. Withdrawal: Withdrawing from social interactions, hobbies, or activities they once enjoyed.
  3. Isolation: Avoiding friends, family, and social situations, preferring to be alone.
  4. Anxiety or Panic: Excessive worry, nervousness, or frequent panic attacks.
  5. Changes in Sleep Patterns: Sleeping too much or too little, or experiencing insomnia or nightmares.
  6. Changes in Appetite: Significant changes in eating habits, either increased or decreased.
  7. Lack of Energy: Persistent fatigue or loss of motivation, even for tasks they previously found manageable.
  8. Difficulty Concentrating: Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  9. Risky Behaviors: Engaging in dangerous or impulsive activities without considering the consequences.

Physical Changes:

  1. Unexplained Aches and Pains: Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or other unexplained ailments.
  2. Neglect of Personal Hygiene: A noticeable decline in grooming and personal care.
  3. Weight Changes: Significant weight loss or gain without a clear reason.

Other Signs:

  1. Expressions of Hopelessness: Statements about feeling worthless, hopeless, or that life is not worth living.
  2. Thoughts of Self-Harm or Suicide: Any mention of self-harm, thoughts of harming others, or suicidal thoughts.
  3. Changes in Work or School Performance: A decline in performance, absenteeism, or trouble keeping up with responsibilities.
  4. Substance Abuse: Increased use of alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.

How to Offer Support:

  1. Open Communication: Approach the person with empathy and without judgment. Express your concerns and offer to listen.
  2. Encourage Professional Help: Suggest they seek help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor.
  3. Offer Assistance: Help them find resources or support, such as a helpline or community services.
  4. Stay Connected: Maintain regular contact and offer ongoing support.
  5. Take Threats Seriously: If someone expresses thoughts of self-harm or suicide, take it seriously and seek immediate help.


It's important to remember that everyone can experience mental health challenges at some point in their lives. If you notice signs that someone may be struggling, your support and encouragement can make a difference in helping them seek the help they need. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, seek emergency assistance right away.  Many times, we have noticed those struggling with mental health don’t want to go on medication due to side effects, nor do they want to talk to someone because they think they can overcome it.  It’s always important to encourage people struggling mentally to seek help through a therapist/psychologist or psychiatrist/primary care physician first, and if this isn’t a solution, psychedelic/ketamine therapy may be a safe and reasonable alternative.