How To Tell Your Parents You Are Depressed
You can use the below tips to plan and practice how to tell your parents you are depressed:
- Preparing yourself mentally
- Convincing them to find a therapist for you
- Letting them how they can help you during the process
Rather than seeing the whole process as one, lets discuss more on these smaller steps that seem achievable and less daunting.
As one of the biggest hurdles we face during depression is telling parents and friends about what we are experiencing. The thought of how our parents will react to the fact that we have depression keeps swirling around in our minds. And that swirling storm wont calm down unless we tell our parents about it. It can be tough and seem scary, but it is a crucial step in getting better. Remember you are not alone in this fight against depression.
How Suicidal Ideation May Impact Disclosure
While depression does not necessarily include suicidal ideation, its presence may be a consideration with respect to telling your parents. In a 2018 journal article, the factors that influenced disclosure were explored through semi-structured interviews with 40 people who had survived a suicide attempt. These factors include identifying motivations to disclose, a costbenefit analysis, and the selection of those who can be trusted with disclosure.
In this way, if you have a supportive relationship with your parents, and the need for tangible support, you may decide that it is in your best interest to have such a discussion with them. Especially if you may be a risk to yourself due to suicidal thoughts and urges, having support from your parents may keep you safe.
Given how depression can impact your ability to look after your responsibilities, it may be particularly helpful for parents to assist with tasks that feel insurmountable, such as making a healthy meal to eat.
Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
What To Say If Mom Or Dad Is Depressed
If you think that your parent is depressed or if theyve admitted to struggling with difficult feelings, its important to make them aware that youre there for them during these hard times and youre willing to help.
Let them know that its alright for them to feel the way they feel, and that youre there to talk if they want to. There is no easy answer about what to say to someone who is depressed. But you want to avoid saying things that dismiss their feelings or make them feel judged.
If your parent is experiencing suicidal thoughts, or outwardly expressing feelings of sadness or a desire to end their life, seek professional help right away.
Have you dealt with depression yourself, or know someone who has? Have you helped your mom or dad through a depressive episode? We want to hear more about your own personal experience.
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What You Need To Know If Your Child Is Depressed
A woman walked into an emergency room with her 13-year-old son, her lips pursed. He was there for a psychiatric evaluation for suicidal thoughts that he had voiced to his school counselor. After my evaluation of her son, I sat down with her to talk. She didnt look pleased. I hope youre here to tell me youre discharging him, she said. We have to get to soccer practice in an hour.
What I was about to tell her was the opposite. Actually, Im here to tell you about your sons depression, I said to her gently. I told her that her 13-year-old had been struggling for the past few months and that the past week had been especially tough. I told her about his difficulty falling asleep, and how much of a struggle it was for him to get out of bed in the morning. I told her that what she saw as teenage snippiness was stemming from something much deeper, based on my assessment as a child psychiatrist. What was hardest to tell her, however, was how far the depression had gotten. For the past few days, he has been feeling like he doesnt deserve to be alive, I said. Id like to refer him for hospitalization to get more help in a safe setting, because whats going on here is perfectly treatable, and he doesnt need to struggle this way anymore.
Mental illness is just like any medical illness. It cant always be prevented, but it can be treated.
How To Tell Your Parents That Youre Depressed
9 times out of 10 they probably know youre depressed before you even do.
It may seem next to impossible sharing your feelings associated with depression to your parents whom you think they maybe be thinking youre perfect and dont want to mess up that image for them. However, it may be increasingly more difficult to talk about when you yourself dont even know whats going on with yourself. Opening up this communication may aid in helping you figure things out more clearly.
If you think its too hard to talk to them in person, try writing them a letter. I know when Im overwhelmed with silence I cant put two words together that make sense. And I often just have a spell of word vomit, that may make the problem worse.
If you dont have the best relationship with your parents, thats okay. Theyre genetically programmed to love you. Try starting with an apology maybe sorry Ive been distant with you guys lately and causing you guys some trouble. Then you can go into it.
Once you initially get the conversation started and off your chest the rest will just flow into place. I know theyre going to ask you well why do you feel this way. And this question to this day I cannot answer. You might just say I dont know. But try and say something like I cant put into words why I am feeling this way.
Sharing is better than keeping it to yourself. It can also make you more accountable for yourself.
Some things parents can do on their end
1. Make the decision to tell someone.
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What To Do If Your Parents Don’t React The Way You Want Them To
Taking the first step in letting a parent or carer know whats going on for you can be difficult. Some parents may find this kind of conversation uncomfortable, or it could make them feel scared or sad. But most parents would say that while these feelings are painful for them, theyre worth it in order to know what youre going through and to potentially help you through it. Some things you can do to feel supported include:
- Reach out for support from other people in your life, such as a school counsellor or teacher, a friend or other family member, or a coach or mentor.
- Lean into other support networks, communities and friendship circles you think might be supportive. You could try ReachOut.com/Forums to speak to other young people who understand what youre going through.
- Get your parents to hop on to ReachOut Parents to learn more.
- Plan something nice for after the conversation .
Remember That Reliable Help Is Always Available
Its very important to have family support. It can go a long way to helping you in the early stages of recovery and in the long term. But they cant be your only healing resource. And if you dont find the help youre hoping for from family, you can always reach right out to a treatment center and expect a compassionate and supportive response.
No matter who you talk to among your family and friends, part of the conversation should be about what kind of treatment you will seek. As heavy and disempowering as depression can be, its absolutely possible to transform the negativity and distress you experience. Your better life really is around the corner when you take steps into positive treatment.
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What Else Can Parents Do
Whether or not youre seeing a therapist, there are ways parents can help when youre dealing with depression. For example, they can:
- spend relaxing, positive time with you
- communicate with kindness and agree to ban hurtful criticism, arguments, threats, and putdowns
- remind you that they love and believe in you
- show affection
- correct you when you go wrong
- help with homework or projects if youre having trouble or get you a tutor
- see the good in you and keep expecting good things from you
- hold you accountable for your responsibilities at home and at school
- talk through problems with you
- make sure you get proper exercise, nutrition, and sleep
You might need to ask your mom or dad to do these things for you. You can show them this list or come up with your own ideas. You know best what would feel most helpful to you.
Talk with your mom or dad about things youll both do to help relieve your depression. Make a list of what you plan to do. Be sure that your plan includes how youll get exercise, sleep and rest, healthy food, time outdoors during the day, positive time with loved ones, and relaxing enjoyable activities. Theyre all essential to fighting depression.
Look at your list every day to help you remember to do whats on your plan and to remind yourself that you can get through this. Beyond depression, theres a brighter future ahead.
Reviewed by: DArcy Lyness, PhDDate reviewed: March 2012
Unique Challenges Of Postpartum Depression
While depression can arise for a variety of reasons, the experience of postpartum depression can sometimes bring especially unique challenges. A 2018 research study found that rates of PPD are significantly higher for people who are marginalized, in terms of being lowincome, BIPOC, immigrant, etc. This reality can often result in poor health for both the parent and the child, as well as difficulties bonding, and educational issues for the child.
Given how factors such as race, class, and immigration status can increase the challenges people face, that may be the case for PPD. That qualitative metainterpretive synthesis of the experiences of PPD among marginalized folx found that navigating poverty, cultural barriers, and an abuse history impacts how people are able to seek support from loved ones, such as parents.
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The Best Ways To Tell Parents Seriously That You Have Depression
For most teenagers and young adults, the cycle goes like this: after you discover that you have all of the signs of depression, you start wondering how to tell your parents you have depression.
If this is your current situation, you are not alone. You also need to tell your parents so that they can get you some professional help.
Below are a few notes and ideas for how to tell your parents you have depression.
When Is It Time To Seek Professional Help
Its important to recognize that depression, and mental illness as a whole, is a serious medical condition that you are not likely to be fully equipped to deal with. Do not think that you have to solve the problem all by yourself or that its your duty to even do this.
On the contrary, your parent might need professional help from a doctor or counselor. Take the issue seriously, because there is always a risk of suicide when it comes to depression.
Pay attention to your parents behavior and mood. Are they withdrawing from activities and becoming more isolated from other family members or friends? Are they sleeping too much or too little? Are they misusing or abusing medications? Maybe theyve started talking about having no reason to live, or expressing suicidal thoughts. If youve started noticing these warning signs, its time to seek help.
Make sure your parent has access to the Canada Suicide Prevention Services hotline number: 1.833.456.4566. Find local resources and support groups in the area where you live. And as always, encourage your parent to talk with their own doctor or a mental health professional if theyre experiencing symptoms of depression or having suicidal thoughts.
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One Or Both Of My Parents Are Part Of Why I Am Struggling
If one or both of your parents are part of the problem, there are still several options for what you can do.
You can try to explain to a parent you trust or work well with if you have one, and tell them how you are feeling and ask that they either tell or do not tell the other parent.
Another thing you can do instead of talking to your parents is to reach out to another trusted adult in your life, like a Guidance counselor.
Counselors in particular can be very helpful in these situations, as they have experience and expertise with students in similar situations.
Other trusted adults, such as grandparents or an aunt you are close to may be able to help you as well, even more so in creating a plan to talk to your parents.
Also, if you are experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect, inform a trusted adult, or you can visit www.dorightbykids.org to find out more information on definitions of abuse and neglect, reporting, and what happens after you report if you decide to do so.
Dont Turn Your Child Into A Caregiver
You can go too far in sharing, though. Its important for parents not to use their children as sounding boards for their negative thoughts and fears, as they might with a therapist or close confidant.
Thats not really an appropriate role for them until theyre adults themselves, said Dr. Huston.
It can be tricky to walk the line between honesty and oversharing, Dr. Huston admitted, but the goal should be to give children the information they need to understand whats going on without putting them into the position of managing their parents mental health. Children are not responsible for the emotional care-taking of their parents, Dr. Cullen said.
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Involve Your Child In Treatment Choices
When choosing a specialist or pursuing treatment options, always get your teens input. If you want your teen to be motivated and engaged in their treatment, dont ignore their preferences or make unilateral decisions. No one therapist is a miracle worker, and no one treatment works for everyone. If your child feels uncomfortable or is just not connecting with the psychologist or psychiatrist, seek out a better fit.
How Can I Tell My Parents About Depression Without Them Getting Mad
Some parents may take you telling them about your depression, a sign of their bad parenting. You need to help them understand the root of your depression while explaining that it is not them that is causing it all. In case you are not sure of the reason, let them know you need their help to figure it out.
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Practice Practice And Practice
You can write a letter, tell a friend, and tell an adult. Those will all help make it easier to tell you parents you’re depressed. Once you start talking about it, keep talking about it.
If you’ve never told anyone before, don’t expect to be the Lebron James of talking about depression. Just remember, you have to start somewhere. Try starting where you feel the most comfortable and work up from there to telling your parents.
How To Tell A Loved One Youre Depressed
Its difficult for some to admit they are suffering from anxiety or depression to themselves, let alone tell a close friend or loved one. Saying the words out loud can prove to be a terrifying feat the action alone can make the diagnosis feel much more real, when the person affected may actually want to try to hide or forget about their illness.
Despite mental health awareness having increased over the past few years, its still difficult for many to discuss depression, anxiety and other related issues with their loved ones, even if they are close to them. Feelings of guilt, awkwardness, or not wanting to be a burden may hold them back from opening up, but being honest and upfront about their struggles can be an important step on the road to recovery.
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Get Support From Others
A really helpful step that I really encourage teens to take when they’re talking to their parents about this stuff is to tell a friend or a supportive adult. This could be a trusted sibling. It could be a teacher or a coach, somebody who you know has your best interests at heart.
And if you’re not sure if they have your best interests at heart, I really recommend that you check out the videos that I made all about dealing with toxic relationships and toxic friendships for teens: You can click here to check that playlist.
Being able to practice and talk it out with them can help you prepare for potential reactions that you may not have been expecting or thinking about. They may even be able to come with you to the conversation so that if you start to feel overwhelmed or nervous or just can’t articulate clearly what it is that you’re trying to say, they can help reframe or guide the conversation in the direction that you’re looking to have it go in.