Signs of Distress

Look for and beware of any of the following signs of distress:
  • Inability to concentrate, confusion, indecisiveness.
  • Persistent worrying.
  • Social isolation, depression.
  • Increased irritability, restlessness.
  • Bizarre or dangerous behavior, mood swings.
  • Missed class/ assignments, procrastination.
  • Messy appearance.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.

Your response:

It can be difficult to see a friend in distress and hard to figure out how to best respond.  It is important to know your boundaries and limitations.  If you decide to talk to them about your concerns, you should follow these guidelines when approaching your friend. 

  • Talk to him or her in private. This could help reduce embarrassment and defensiveness.
  • Openly acknowledge that you are aware of their distress.
  • Speak directly and honestly and acknowledge you are sincerely concerned about their welfare and are willing to help them explore their alternatives.
  • Strange or inappropriate behavior should not be ignored. Comment directly on what you have observed.
  • Listen carefully to what your friend is troubled about and try to see the issue from his/her point of view without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing.
  • Attempt to succinctly identify the problem or concern and explore alternatives to deal with the problem.
  • Refer to Counseling Services or outside professional help when appropriate. Inform them that seeing the counselor does not mean they have some mental disorder. The counselor can help them identify what’s causing the problem and figure out ways to cope and get back on track.

Consultation with Counseling Services:

If you are unsure of how to best handle a situation when a friend is distressed, we encourage you to reach out to Counseling Services to consult with one of our therapists.  A brief consultation may help you sort out the issues, explore alternative approaches, and identify resources.