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Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego

Rady Children's Hospital - San Diego
3020 Children's Way
San Diego, California 92123
(858) 576-1700
www.rchsd.org


Talking to Parents About Depression

If you feel depressed, alone, or are having a problem you can't solve, you need to reach out for help and support. Talk to a parent or to another trusted adult in your life, like a school counselor, teacher, pastor, or coach. Let them know what you're going through.

What if I Don't Know What to Say?

Don't wait to talk just because you're not sure what to say. You can keep it simple. You can start just by saying, "Got a minute? I need to talk." Then say what's on your mind. For example, "I've been feeling down a lot lately. I think I should talk to you about it." The person you're talking to might ask you to tell them more. Sometimes, that's all it takes to get started talking.

How Can Talking to a Parent Help?

It can feel like a big relief to have someone listen, hear you out, and show they care. Talking together can help you feel more hopeful. It lets you know you're not alone. Someone believes in you and has your back.

Sometimes, a parent can help you see another angle to a problem you're dealing with. They can give good advice. When you feel their support, it's easier to think of ways to help yourself, too.

What if I Need More Help? 

Sometimes talking to a parent is all you need to start feeling better. Sometimes you need more help. That's OK, too.

If you are having a sad or bad mood that lasts more than a week or two, let your parent know. Ask them to set up a health visit to check for depression. Your doctor can ask you a few questions or have you fill out a questionnaire that has questions about depression.

Sometimes it might be helpful to talk with a therapist, especially if you have had these feelings for a long time. Your parent can set this up for you. The information you share with your therapist will be kept between the two of you, unless your therapist is worried about your safety. 

How Else Can Parents Help?

Even when you see a therapist, parents can still help in lots of ways. Talk with your parents about what you want their help with. Here are some of the things they can do. You might think of other things that aren't on this list. But this list can give you and your parent some ideas.

Parents can:

  • help you practice skills you learn in therapy
  • remind you that they love and believe in you
  • let you know they see the good in you, and are proud of you
  • keep expecting good things from you
  • talk through problems with you
  • ask you about good things that happen in your day
  • help with homework or projects you're having trouble with, or get you a tutor
  • hold you to your responsibilities at home and at school
  • help you get enough exercise, sleep, and healthy food
  • help you limit the time you spend on screens and social media
  • help you wake up in the morning at the right time, but do it in a friendly way
  • do things with you that you both enjoy — walk, play a sport or game, watch a movie, do a craft, or cook

These things may seem simple, but they add up. They start to change the way you think and feel. They can lift your mood, and help you think better about yourself. They can help you and your parent feel close. Everything you try and do to help yourself feel better counts. It's worth the time you spend doing it.

Reviewed by: Amanda S. Lochrie, PhD
Date reviewed: April 2022