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How to Talk to Your Parents About Depression

How to Talk to Your Parents About Depression

Talking to your parents about anything can be difficult when you’re a teenager. Talking to your parents about your feelings and mental health can feel even more daunting. But it’s an important part of getting support, so let’s sort through how you’re feeling—and what you can do next to make it easier.

Starting conversations about your mental health can feel scary

Will your parents understand?

Will they worry?

Will they blame themselves?

Will they validate your feelings?

Is this truly depression or will they just call me a moody teenager?

Though it can be nerve-wracking to have conversations like this with your parents, open communication, honesty, and support are very helpful when it comes to dealing with depression in your teen years and beyond.

That said, it’s totally normal not to want to share everything with your parents, especially surrounding mental health. But having this conversation with them can help you get the steps started to talk to a professional. Once you begin with our teen counseling services, your therapist will talk with you about ways to maintain your privacy and boundaries while balancing positive support from your parents.

Mood Swings vs. Depression

Adolescence is a notorious period of mood swings, rebellion, feeling misunderstood and seeking independence to name a few. It can be difficult to distinguish which of our emotions are due to hormonal chaos happening in our bodies, and which ones might be the signs of a more serious mental health issue.

If you feel you experience symptoms of depression such as loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, feeling worthless or guilty or loss of energy/fatigue, it is important to talk to a trusted adult about it. Support from your family can help to identify what help you might benefit from, what your parents can do to help, and when it may be a good idea to seek additional information or professional help.

Depression is a common mental health issue that adolescents deal with; in fact, studies show about 1 in 5 teens will deal with depression in their teenage years. Getting help from your parents or a professional with depression can help prevent those feelings from escalating into the realm of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

We Need to Talk…

Many adults admit they have a hard time identifying mental health issues in their kids, research shows. This is why it is an important and brave thing to do to sit your parents down and be honest about your emotions and struggles. But figuring out where to start and how to bring this conversation up can feel intimidating.

Here are some ideas/prompts to help you get started so you can feel in control of the conversation:

“I think I have been feeling depressed, and I want to talk about it with you”

“I’ve been feeling ____ and think I should talk to a professional about these feelings.”

“I have noticed I have been feeling _____ lately.”

“I have been having a hard time with _____.”

“This is difficult for me to talk about, but I need to talk to you about the way I’ve been feeling lately”

Odds are, you will just need to get the conversation started and your parents will be able to help you navigate the rest. Just like you have things you’ll want to say, there’s likely some stuff they’ll want to know.

Be prepared to answer questions, as your parents will likely have some to try to figure out the best way to help you. Here are some questions you may want to be prepared to answer, which can also help you better understand your own feelings and how to effectively communicate.

  • What are your symptoms?
  • How long have you felt this way?
  • Did something happen to make you feel this way?
  • Have you talked to anyone? A friend? Someone at school?

There is no easy way to have this conversation, but it is very important to have. There is one fact you should carry with you when you’re (trying to be) ready to talk to your parents about your mental health: you are not alone, and you should not have to deal with this alone. Adolescent mental health is a rising public health problem and there is help available.

The Kids will be alright

If you feel nervous, anxious, judged, misunderstood or even scared in anticipation of this conversation, those are very valid feelings to have in this situation. Having the courage to talk to your parents about depression can help decrease those emotions and instill feelings of hope, confidence, belonging and safety.

You may find it is a big relief to get these big feelings off your chest, be met with empathy and get support in tackling next steps with the love, care and support of your parents.

It’s okay if your parent’s perspective or advice doesn’t fix the issue, because they can help you get connected to someone who can work with you to help you with your depression.

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