This article provides 7 easy steps on “How to tell your parents you’re depressed.” These steps include:
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
- Initiating the conversation
- Anticipating their response
- Helping them understand
- Seeking help from other family members or friends
- 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, let’s 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 won’t 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.
Mentally prepare oneself for the Talk
The first step is to prepare yourself mentally about what you are going to say to your parents about your depression. You need to be ready to express all the bottled up emotions you have been feeling so they can understand how it has been for you. You need to share with them your perspective, which can be overwhelming. Especially if you haven’t shared your emotions and feelings with them in a long time.
If initiating the talk about depression with your parents makes you anxious, practice in your head what you want to convey to them. You can do this in front of a mirror or with a close friend of yours.
One thing that can be helpful is if you write your thoughts on a piece of paper and keep it with you when you talk to your parents. This way you won’t feel lost during the talk and have a fall back in case you are unable to express yourself the way you had hoped to.
Initiate the Conversation
Once you have mentally prepared yourself to have a conversation with your parents about your depression, the next step is to talk to them about it. For that, you can start by saying, “I haven’t been feeling myself for some time and I think I have depression. I need help and was hoping to discuss it with you.” After that, you can begin by explaining to them the emotions you have been experiencing and the thoughts you’ve been having. Refer to your notes in case you feel overwhelmed.
Remember that this is a huge step for you and that it is okay to express all and every emotion you are feeling to your parents.
In case you do not want to have a direct face-to-face conversation with them, write a letter to them or send an audio message, which every medium feels comfortable to you.
Anticipate their Response
You know your parents better than anyone, and because of that you’ll know how they are most likely to respond. So expect that response and prepare for it. Sometimes our parent’s response might not be what we expected and take us by a surprise. Prepare for that too. One thing most parents do after you tell them about your depression is to ask questions. These may include “Have you hurt yourself?” “Do you have suicidal feelings?” “Since when have you been feeling like this?” “Why didn’t you tell us that before?” “What led to this?” “How can we help now?”
Some questions might be expected by you and some not. Take your time to answer them and be patient during the entire process. They need their time to accept the fact and deal with it at their own pace.
Help them understand
No one knows exactly what you are going through except you, and you need to remember that when talking to your parents about your depression. One thing that will help is you listing out your symptoms and sharing them with the different resources you have on depression. They might have a general idea about what depression is and you might have to educate them about it further. You can have printed articles ready with you that you relate with when telling your parents about your depression. This will help them have a deeper and realistic understanding of what you are going through.
Your parents might dismiss you stating it’s just a “teen thing” and that you’ll get over it. But it is not true and you need to calmly let your parents know that. It is not them dismissing your feelings, rather them not being aware enough to know about the severity of depression. In such cases, you need to provide them with instances that happened like dropping of motivation, attention, and concentration levels, or times you didn’t enjoy the activities that used to bring you pleasure earlier.
You don’t need to share it all
You do not have to feel the compulsion to tell everything you are experiencing to your parents. You may disclose as much information as you are comfortable with. You can let them know how you’ve been feeling over a course of time, it all doesn’t have to be told today.
Remember, it is a big step for you and it is a lot of information for them. You get to decide the pace you are comfortable at when it comes to talking about your depression.
Strained relations with Parents
Depression can lead to a strained relationship with parents or vice versa. In that case, you might feel more anxious about talking to them about your depression. But it can be made easier by picking a time that suits your parents and you, a time when they’ll be in their best moods. In case you have been distant from them, you can start with an apology stating that “I am sorry for how things have been between us lately. I need to talk to you about something that has been bothering me and I also need your help to deal with it.” There is a high chance that they’ll be more willing to help you out now.
If talking to Parents doesn’t work
Even if the relationship between you and your parents is strong, there are chances that they might not react as expected to the news of you having depression. Remember to stay calm and let them experience the emotions they are feeling.
They are probably confused and feel clueless about what is going on. Do not panic and give them time to digest the news. Share with them your journey of understanding that you have depression. You can say, “I understand that this is all new for you and that you need time to process it. It took time for me too, so I understand.”
This will help take off the pressure to respond immediately to the news of you having depression. Even after that if they do not understand and dismiss the notion of you having depression, you can seek the help of people outside your family to convince them you need help.
Seek help from other family members
In case your parents are unable to grasp the seriousness of your problem, you can always ask some trusted adult, like your older siblings, close relatives, or grandparents to talk on your behalf to your parents about your depression. Some parents might dismiss you thinking you are still a child but may pay heed to what other adults in the family say. You can say, “I tried to talk to mom and dad about my depression, but I do not think they understood me completely. If you could talk to them about it, it would help me.” Or you could ask them to be there with you next time you talk to your parents about your depression. You can also seek their advice on how to approach your parents with the topic.
Going beyond your family for help
In case you do not have any close family members that you can approach, you can also approach a trusted teacher, counselor, or a family friend. Approaching your school counselor can prove quite beneficial as they have a lot of experience in helping students with depression and on how to help their parents deal with their children having depression.
Go to your family doctor
Your parents might need convincing evidence from a doctor that you have depression. You can ask your family doctor to run a screening test of depression on you. This will also help provide clarity to you about your depression and help convince your parents that you need help deal with it.
Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.
Convince your Parents you need a Therapist
Once your parents are able to wrap their head around the fact that you have depression. You can initiate the conversation about seeking a therapist to help you during these tough times. A lot of counselors specialize in depression and can be approached for the same. You can also contact certain helpline numbers. You can ask your parents to accompany you to your first session, so they can ask their queries about depression, how the therapy sessions are conducted and what role they can play to facilitate a speedy recovery for you.
In case your parents are against the thought of you seeking a therapist, you can make them talk to a therapist or your school counselor on the phone where they can elaborate on the whole therapeutic process and clear any doubts or hesitations your parents might have about therapy.
How Parents can help
Even if you seek a therapist or not, your parents can help you out with your depression, by doing small things. Here are a few things that you can ask your parents to do:
- Be there for you whenever you need a shoulder to cry on or emotional support.
- Remind you how much they love you and are there for you.
- Rather than focusing on your negatives, they can help you embrace your positive traits.
- They can help you with your homework and projects, and talking to your teachers about your condition.
- Ensure that you have your meals properly and exercise regularly.
Your parents might not know how to help you out, so you will have to tell me about it. You can tell them how they can be there for you emotionally and physically while you have depressive episodes. You can add or subtract to the list given above.
You can also ask them to accompany you to your therapy appointments or to participate in support groups if you feel overwhelmed by going to them alone. You get to decide their level of involvement in your life.
Always remember that you are not alone in this fight against depression and help is just one ask away.
What we recommend for Depression
If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.
BetterHelp: A Better Alternative
Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.
BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.
FAQ: How to Tell Your Parents You’re Depressed
How do I tell my parents I am serious?
Some parents might think you are overreacting or do not understand what depression is. This may lead them to not take you seriously. In such cases, you need to show your parents you know what you are talking about. Showing them the articles you have read or books you may have referred to can help.
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.
How do I get my parents to listen to me?
Timing plays a crucial role, as you need to pick a time when they are not busy. Ensure that they are relaxed and preferably in a good mood. Make them sit down in a quiet room with you and then in a serious tone explain what you’ve been going through. Make sure you keep calm and give them a chance to express themselves too.
Should I always listen to my parents?
Most of the decisions taken by parents are taken keeping our best interest in mind. But when one is experiencing depression, it is very personal and no one else can ever fully grasp all of it. In such cases, you need to listen to yourself also, even if it means going against the advice of your parents.
How to deal with parents who do not listen?
Some parents might not be willing to listen to you, in such cases you can ask other people in your house or neighborhood to help you. Asking your teacher or counselor can also be beneficial.