One of my labmates used to be the "star student". Super smart and productive, really engaging to talk to etc. However, it seems like overnight, he's become a totally different person. He's stopped coming into lab for multiple days in a row, has stopped making any progress, and is starting to complain a lot. He seems very frustrated with our advisor and the lack of support, and bad-mouthes him every chance he gets now. I'm pretty sure our advisor has noticed, but is just ignoring this or even avoiding him. I'm afraid this student might be dropping out soon. This isn't really affecting me so much, but I'm just wondering why someone would change so suddenly. As a new grad student, I hear a lot about the stress of grad school, and I'm concerned about whether this is a common occurrence? It wouldn't stand out so much, but he was actually one of those "oh, he's going to open his own lab one day" type person. What can I do to avoid a similar burn-out, and is there anything I can do as a colleague? Out of curiosity, is there anything the PI should do?

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  • Welcome to Academia.SE! There are quite a few questions on this site already about burn out, both in yourself and in others. Have you taken a look at some of those? There might be helpful answers already. – Jeff Feb 11 '17 at 6:38
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    Please do reach out to him. You clearly have a lot of humanity and empathy. // Sometimes when someone is depressed, they lash out and become aggressive. // You can also make ONE attempt to share your observations with your PI. // Try not to project yourself onto this labmate's situation. Keep in mind that you are two separate people. // In terms of coping mechanisms for the stress of grad school, perhaps the most important thing is to find out what is helpful for you. – aparente001 Feb 11 '17 at 8:05
  • I've seen a situation where a student's behavior changed suddenly (for the worse) because he got so busy that he neglected to take his medication. I have no idea how likely such an explanation is in the situation you described; I only mention it as one possibility. – Andreas Blass Feb 13 '17 at 0:16

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