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Talking to Parents About Depression

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
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If you feel depressed, alone, or are having a problem you can't solve, you need to reach out for help and support. Talk to a parent, or to another adult in your life. Let them know what you're going through.

What if I Don't Know What to Say?

Don't wait to talk just because you're not sure what to say. You can keep it simple. You can start just by saying, "Got a minute? I need to talk." Then say what you're going through. For example, "I've been feeling down a lot lately. I think I might be depressed." The person you're talking to might ask you to tell them more. Sometimes, that's all it takes to get started talking.

How Can Talking to a Parent Help?

It can feel like a big relief to have someone listen, hear you out, and show they care. Talking together can help you feel more hopeful. It lets you know you're not alone. Someone believes in you and has your back.

Sometimes, a parent can help you see another angle to a problem you're dealing with. They can give good advice. When you feel their support, it's easier to think of ways to help yourself, too.

What if I Need More Help? 

Sometimes talking to a parent is all you need to start feeling better. Sometimes you need more help. That's OK, too.

If you are having a sad or bad mood that lasts, let your parent know. Ask them to set up a health visit to check for depression. You might need to talk with a therapist — even after you've had good talks with your parent. Your parent can set this up for you. And if you see a therapist, a parent's help still matters.

How Else Can Parents Help?

Parents can help in lots of ways. Talk with them about what you want their help with. Here are some of the things parents can do to help. You might think of other things that aren't on this list. But this list can give you and your parent some ideas.

Parents can:

  • help you practice skills you learn in therapy
  • remind you that they love and believe in you
  • let you know they see the good in you, and are proud of you
  • keep expecting good things from you
  • talk through problems with you
  • ask you about good things that happen in your day
  • help with homework or projects you're having trouble with, or get you a tutor
  • hold you to your responsibilities at home and at school
  • help you get enough exercise, sleep, and healthy food
  • help you limit the time you spend on screens and social media
  • help you wake up in the morning at the right time, but do it in a friendly way
  • do things with you that you both enjoy — walk, play a sport or game, watch a movie, do a craft, or cook

These things may seem simple, but they add up. They start to change the way you think and feel. They can lift your mood, and help you think better about yourself. They can help you and your parent feel close. That's a recipe for feeling better, even if you're going through depression.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: August 2021