I am afraid that one of the guys in lab is getting depressed. He usually takes impeccable care of himself - wears designer jeans, is very careful about his cologne (he smells awesome, I have to say...). But he's worn workout pants for the past three weeks, sweatshirts every day. He hasn't gone to the gym in a long time. I've tried to ask about school, research, life in general. How is the girlfriend, etc. Not talking, although he's usually pretty open with me.
He's in my group project for one of my classes, and so tonight I was about to leave at 7:30ish when I saw he was still at his desk, working away at our project. I wandered over to chit chat about the project. My part is almost done, and he was working on his part. I couldn't really help with the analysis (only one person per MatLab per computer, you know) but it just seemed like he could use the company.
So it was one of those gut decisions. I hadn't had dinner, my brain was tired at the end of the day, and I had studying I needed to do - but I sat down my bookbag and stayed. I ended up chattering away for a good 45 minutes while he worked. I said nothing of substance, I felt a bit foolish. But he seemed calmer and more focused as he worked with me in the background. He said, "I'm so glad you're sitting here - it's soothing just to have you talk to me."
I hope I helped. I'm keeping my eye on him. I don't really know what to do beyond offering some human company if that's what he needs. What's the protocol here?