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The Case of the Anti-Social Roommate: Could Depression be a Factor?

So, your first semester of school has finally started. You’ve set up your room, sent the your parents packing, and are psyched to start meeting new people, trying new things, and partying like Rihanna at a Barbados street festival. The only problem? Your roommate … isn’t. Now, we all know it’s not essential to be best friends with a roommate. At best, you simply need to respect one another, be personable enough to get along, and, hopefully, share your last few slices of pizza once in awhile. But, in some cases, living with a roommate who seems to share absolutely no love for the things you do can really be a drag for both parties involved. What do you do when you say hello and ask about their day, and your roommate simply glances at you and offers nothing but a shrug and half-smile? How do you handle it when you invite some friends over and your roommate curls up in bed without acknowledging your presence? How do you avoid going nuts when they never, ever, seem to leave the confines of the dorm room?

While it may be tempting to report these atrocities on Twitter or beg for a room change, it’s also important to think twice about the reason your roommate may be acting this way. Sometimes habits that simply seem anti-social are signs of much deeper issues. And while it’s not your responsibility to help your roommate out of it, you may need to be aware of what is actually going on so you can be more accommodating and possibly let an authority figure know that there could be a serious mental health issue plaguing your fellow student. This will do wonders to improve both your own mental well-being and your roommate’s.

Below are some common symptoms of depression, provided by the Mayo Clinic. If your roommate seems to be exhibiting more than seven of these symptoms, depression could be what’s bringing down the vibe in your dorm room. Remember, this is a real illness, and your roommate needs to be treated with kindness and encouraged to seek help from a mental help professional.

  • Looks sad or unhappy
  • Shows irritability or frustration over small matters
  • No interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Abnormal appetite — either no appetite, or sudden overeating
  • Looks agitated or restless
  • Frequent irritability or angry outbursts
  • Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
  • Indecisiveness, distractibility, and decreased concentration
  • Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy — even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
  • Shows feelings of worthlessness or guilt, like dwelling on failures or constant self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Talks about death, dying, or suicide
  • Sudden crying spells
  • Unexplained physical problems, like headaches or back pain

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