How to tell your parents that you are depressed (Tips)

In this brief guide, we will discuss how to tell your parents that you are depressed, and any problems you may have in telling your parents that you are depressed.

How to tell your parents that you are depressed?

To tell your parents that you are depressed, start with first asking them when a good time for them might be, or when they will be able to have a long conversation without interruptions. You can say something like “I would really like to spend some time with you guys, and I need to have a conversation about some stuff I have been feeling”. Most parents are incredibly receptive to their child if the child takes an initiative to have a serious conversation, and your parents will likely understand the seriousness if you just communicate it to them.

Tips for how to tell your parents that you are depressed

This can be a hard conversation to have, and some tips for how to tell your parents you are depressed are being honest, trying to communicate the seriousness of your situation, being forthcoming about why you feel that you are depressed, and try not to be too afraid that they will get angry or blame you because in all likelihood they won’t.

Here are some detailed tips on how to tell your parents that you are depressed:

Start Somewhere

After you have conveyed to your parents that you want to talk, sit down with them, keep your gadgets away and ask them to do the same, and start by telling them that you have not been feeling like yourself lately.

You can tell them that you have been having trouble sleeping or haven’t felt like eating or some other of your symptoms.

If you want to ease into it because it is overwhelming for you as well, just avoid using labels like mental health or depression, instead describe your problems as they may have arisen, or the way you would describe them to someone you are seeing for treatment.

You don’t have to start with the most challenging aspects of depression at the start.

You don’t even need to do everything in the first conversation, the first important thing is to start an open channel of communication.

Once you start, you might feel that it is actually rather empowering about even beginning to open up.

When you reach to your parents about your depression, you’re opening up to the seriousness and intensity of your own pain and at the same time starting to try and get better and to the possibilities for healing.

Moving forward is an empowering thing, so start the conversation at the very least.

Start With Other Supportive People

If you feel like talking to your parents about depression may be too challenging for you right away, try reaching out to an aunt or uncle or grandparents, that you might be close to.

Make sure it is a family member that is aware of your living situation, your parents, and so on, so you can get good advice that is applicable to your situation.

Tell them that you have been going through this and that you would like to talk to your parents about it, but that you don’t know how to yet.

Usually, distant relatives or people who are not living in our home can be excellent mediators and can give you lovely advice on how to cope.

In addition, you will have a comfortable idea of how to go about the conversation.

Write it all Down

If you feel too hesitant to talk at all with anyone in your family about it, it may help to write things down.

Even if you never give your parents this written letter, you are still acknowledging your feelings, and once you put it all own on paper you might get the strength to face it and inform your parents about it as well.

You can either give your parents this letter eventually or decide to read it out to them, and the benefit is that this may give them some time to react as well, and you can tell them to take their time, as it might be a hard thing for them to hear too.

Try Again

Don’t think that the very first conversation will be enough.

The goal is to open communication and tell them that you are going through something.

Once you have done that, try to have more conversations, about what treatment you can seek, if there are medications you can take, what you can do with them (your parents) to make you feel better, or if they have any ideas that might help.

You can also ask them if they have experienced anything like this in their lives, or if they have any advice you can follow right away.

Try to tell them that you really want to get better and that you are open to their help, whatever they can give you.

Remember that your journey toward healing will happen one step at a time, and each time you reach out to share with family or friends will be a very important step in the right direction.

You may need practice sharing these sensitive parts of yourself, and your loved ones may need time to cope with it as well, so try to understand their perspective as well.

Encourage questions

Encourage your parents to ask you questions. Tell them that you understand that it is a hard thing to get their mind around and that you are willing to share things with them.

When they ask you what you are going through, tell them as much as you can about depression and how you have been feeling.

Once you get the conversation started, your parent will probably ask you to talk more about what you’re going through.

Since you have been suffering by yourself for a while, you will find this next part to be surprisingly easy.

Conversely, you might not be sure how to put your feelings into words.

Try to get beyond that confusion by 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.”

Your mom or dad will be concerned and may ask how you’re doing, try to remember that they are not nagging. They just care about you, which is what you need them to do when you decide to tell them about your depression.

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.

Anticipate Questions.

Depending on how much your parents know about depression, they may have some concerned questions, and you need to be mentally prepared to answer them, even if not totally successful, at least enough to tell them what you are going through.

They may want to know things like:

·       Are you going to harm or kill yourself?

·       How long have you felt this way?

·       Did something happen to make you feel this way?

·       What would you like to do about it?

·       Have you told anyone else and if so, what was their advice?

·       Has this affected your other relationships and are you able to deal with school/college?

·       How can we help you feel better?

Possible problems when trying to tell your parents about your depression

These are some of the problems you may have when trying to tell your parents you are depressed.

“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 to find out more information on definitions of abuse and neglect, reporting, and what happens after you report if you decide to do so.

If you have been arguing with your parents or getting in trouble

If there’s been a lot of tension between you and your parents, or one of your parents, if you fight a lot or just don’t talk at all, it can seem that much harder to reach out for help.

You can still do it though, you just need to start by picking a time to talk when you’re not arguing, or try to find a time when they seem in an otherwise good mood.

You can even try to start with an apology, such as, “I’m sorry things haven’t been so good between us lately.” And follow that with “I need to talk” or, “I need your help. I think I am not well, and I definitely need to at least talk to you”. If you and your parents have a good relationship otherwise, there is no anger they could feel that would keep them from helping you.

What if Talking to Parents Doesn’t Work?

Even if you think that your parents won’t be willing or be able to help, it’s still worth it to talk to them. If they don’t or can’t help you that’s up to them, but your job is to at least keep them in the loop, given that they are responsible for you.

You may be surprised by how much your parents rally to your side when you ask for help, even if your parents have a lot going on themselves.

If your parents have too many troubles of their own or other issues going on, you can reach out and if they can’t help, go to another adult (such as a teacher, counselor, coach, or relative).

“My parents do not believe me.”

It might be hard for your parents to see what is actually going on.

They might label your struggles as typical “growing up” experiences, or they dismiss the entire possibility of getting help for mental health.

You can try to explain to them using examples of people in your school or peer group and remind them that you have had these problems for a while and that you have done some research about it and you know what you are talking about.

If they still don’t listen and you are feeling hopeless, try to involve some other adult into the conversation, talk to a counselor or teacher that you trust, tell them everything about your situation, and see what their advice is. Sometimes they may be willing to help out as well, either by telling you what to do or talking to your parents themselves.


In this brief guide, we discussed how to tell your parents that you are depressed, and any problems you may have in telling your parents that you are depressed. Please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How to tell your parents that you are depressed

How do you tell your parents you have a mental illness?

Here is how to Talk to Your Parents About Mental Health and Getting Help
Be proud of yourself for asking for help.
Be sure you are asking the right person 
Get The timing right
Prepare for the conversation
Don’t blame anyone
Look for help, not necessarily understanding the issue, at least not right away.

How do you tell your parents you’re serious?

To tell your parents that you are serious you need to make sure you use the right words and tone to convey what you are trying to say.
You can also try some of these tips:
Be honest.
Be clear and direct. Be as clear as you can about what you think, feel, and want
Try to understand their perspective
Try not to argue or whine, or raise your voice

What percentage of students will have symptoms of depression?

Between 20% – 30% of students will have symptoms of depression. 
Depression was considered an “adult” affliction, but the mean age of onset today is 15. Almost 9 percent of high school students have attempted suicide in the past year.

Why am I scared to tell my parents anything?

You may be scared to tell your parents anything because you see them as authority figures who always give orders that you have to obey, without questioning them at all.

What is the most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child?

The most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child, according to Ellen Perkins: “Without doubt, the number one most psychologically damaging thing you can say to a child is ‘I don’t love you’ or ‘you were a mistake”



Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!