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What If You Think You're Depressed?
Depression is complicated. There are lots of different signs that someone might be
depressed. For some people, feelings of depression are mild and don't last long. For
others, depression can be more intense and may last several months or longer.
If you feel depressed, alone, or are having troubles you can't solve, you need to reach
out for help and support. If you can, it's best to turn to a parent.
Preparing to Talk to Parents
Talking with parents about depression takes courage and willingness to open up. It may
feel awkward sharing personal feelings with parents in a way that you haven't done since
you were younger — or perhaps at all. It also can be hard to share when you're not
really sure what's going on yourself.
Don't let any of this stop you, though. Sometimes parents can offer a new angle that helps
you figure things out. Just talking about it might help you see things more clearly for
Another concern is how a parent might react. Will mom be mad? Will dad be disappointed?
It's natural to worry, but most of the time parents are supportive and understanding if
you express yourself thoughtfully and calmly.
If you're like most people, you probably wish your parent would start the conversation.
Sometimes a parent will ask what's wrong. Much of the time, though, it's up to you.
Starting the Conversation
Find a time when you can approach your mom or dad in a calm way. You might want to open
the conversation by asking, "Can I talk to you? I think I might be depressed."
Or you could say, "I've been feeling depressed and bad about things. I've been thinking I
might need to talk to someone."
If you can't bring yourself to start a conversation in person, you could write your parent
a note saying you need to talk.
Sometimes the conversation just gets started by itself. For example, if you're feeling
upset — even if you're crying or overwhelmed — you might just blurt out your feelings.
This could be the perfect beginning to the conversation you need to have.
If you're really upset, you'll need to calm yourself (at least a little) to make the
conversation worthwhile. That way, a parent can hear what's on your mind and take you
seriously — and not just go away thinking, "Oh, I guess he's just upset" and assuming it
What If I've Been Arguing With My Parents or Getting in Trouble?
If there's been a lot of disrespect between you and your parent — if you fight a lot or
just don't talk — it can seem harder to reach out for help. Start by picking a time to
talk when you're not arguing.
If it's needed, you can start with an apology, such as, "I'm sorry I've been so rude to
you lately" or "I'm sorry I've been messing up so much lately." Then say, "I need to talk"
or "I need your help — I think I might be depressed." Chances are, mom or dad will be
impressed with your maturity.
What Happens Next?
Once you get the conversation started, your parent will probably ask you to say more about
what you're going through. This part might be surprisingly easy. Now that the conversation
has started, it might feel like a relief to pour your heart out.
Or, this part might be hard. You might not be sure how to put your feelings into words.
Try to get beyond just saying, "I don't know." If you really can't explain things, try "I
want to do this, but I just can't find the words right now." Give it more thought, but be
sure to talk about it again later. Your mom or dad will be concerned and may ask how
you're doing. They're not nagging. They just care about you.
Occasionally, talking about depression can be hard for parents as well as teens. It might
take several conversations, or you might feel better right away. Every situation is
If a specific problem has you depressed, a parent may be able to help you think of
something to do about it. Or mom or dad might listen to your ideas for what to do and give
you a vote of confidence that you're on the right track. That can be reassuring. Whether
or not you come up with solutions right away, sharing a problem is better than keeping it
What if I Need to Talk to a Therapist?
If depression is strong or lasts, you might need to talk with a therapist — even after
you've had good conversations with your parents. Let your mom or dad know if you continue
to feel depressed or if you have problems with motivation, concentration, or moods. Your
mom or dad can make an appointment for you and support you while you work with a
If your parent isn't sure you need to see a therapist but you feel you do, explain why
(again, it's best to do this when you feel calm so you can get your ideas across well). It
is possible to get around issues like how to find a therapist or what it costs. Your
doctor, religious leader, or school counselor can help your parent find local and
What if Talking to Parents Doesn't Work?
Even if you worry that a parent won't be willing or able to help, it's still worth a try.
People are often surprised by how much their parents rally to their side when they ask for
help, even if the parents have a lot going on themselves.
Occasionally, parents have too many troubles of their own or other issues going on. If you
reach out to talk and it turns out your mom or dad can't help, just go to another adult
(such as a teacher, counselor, coach, or relative). Don't give up until you find someone
who can help you. It's that important.
What Else Can Parents Do?
Whether or not you're seeing a therapist, there are ways parents can help when you're
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
remind you that they love and believe in you
comment on your positive actions and traits
correct you (kindly, but seriously) when you go wrong
help with homework or projects if you're having trouble or get you a tutor
see the good in you and keep expecting good things from you
hold you accountable (kindly, but seriously) for your responsibilities at home and at
talk through problems with you
make sure you get proper exercise, nutrition, and sleep (it's not nagging — it's love!)
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 you'll both do to help relieve your depression.
Make a list of what you plan to do. Be sure that your plan includes how you'll get
exercise, sleep and rest, healthy food, time outdoors during the day, positive time with
loved ones, and relaxing enjoyable activities. They're all essential to fighting
Look at your list every day to help you remember to do what's on your plan — and to
remind yourself that you can get through this. Beyond depression, there's a brighter