World Mental Health day is on 10th October this year. With the recent death of the much loved actor Robin Williams, depression and mental health have been put firmly on the health agenda. Mental health is becoming recognised as just as important as physical health, and indeed if you are stressed or upset then this can affect your physical health as well.
How can we spot if a family member or a close friend is struggling emotionally? Here are some signs that you may notice.
1. They become withdrawn
If your loved one is withdrawn, this might mean they have a lot on their plate emotionally. Ask if they are OK and if they need someone to chat to.
2. They are indulging more in stimulants
If they are indulging more in alcohol, caffeine or drugs then this is a sign they are looking for a way to escape their unhappiness or emotional pain.
3. They lack enthusiasm
If your friend or family member seems like they have little positive emotion towards anything, they might be depressed.
4. They are up and down emotionally
Are they happy one minute and then looking miserable the next? This could be a sign of a deeper underlying problem that needs to be resolved.
5. They are fixated on one aspect of their lives
If someone seems a bit obsessive about one area of their lives, it may mean that they are stressed out, and are using this hobby or pastime as a way to feel more in control.
6. They get upset or angry easily
If the person in question is getting upset or angry easily, it means that their emotions are near the surface and they are not feeling calm or relaxed. This could be another sign of a problem.
7. They lack direction and focus
If someone you know lacks direction and focus, then they might be feeling down. They might struggle to know what they want or they set goals and fail to achieve them.
8. They are confused about their life
If you know someone that seems in a 'fog', and they are hazy and confused about their lives, chances are they might be depressed.
9. They don't socialise as much as they used to
By cutting themselves off from their friends, the person may want to deal with their troubles on their own. But it's always best to talk it out.
10. They sleep a lot or have problems sleeping
If the person in question is restless, then this may mean they have trouble emotionally. Similarly if the person sleeps to excess and has trouble getting out of bed, it may mean that they are feeling emotionally drained.
The best thing you can do for someone you feel may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression is to let them know you are there for them and to get them to care for themselves by: 
- Following a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, a balanced diet and avoiding destructive behaviours such as excessive drinking, smoking and drug-taking.
- Recognising and positively managing the challenges that they are struggling with.
- Seeking social support and where necessary, professional help from their doctor or free confidential helplines such as Rethink Mental Illness and the Samaritans.
1. World Mental Health Day: http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/