How Do I Tell My Parents I'm Depressed?

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Question:  I'm thirteen years old and feel like I may be depressed.  I never feel happy anymore.  I just want to sleep all day and hide away from the world.  I'm also having a hard time keeping up with school because I just never feel like studying.  I want to ask my parents to take me to see a doctor, but I don't know what to say.   How do I tell my parents I'm depressed without making them too worried?

  What if they don't believe me or they think I'm just trying to get attention?

Answer:  Telling someone that you need help for depression is pretty scarey for anyone, even adults.  It takes a great deal of trust to open up and let someone see that vulnerable side of us.  What if they don't react the way we need them to?  However, it's a very important step in getting the help that you need, especially when you are a teenager and have to rely on your parents in order to get professional help.

The first thing you should do is find a quiet time when you can sit down with your parent or parents and have a talk.  Bring up the subject by saying something like, "Can we talk?  I think I might be depressed." or "I've been feeling really depressed lately and I'd like to go see a doctor."  Or, if that's not comfortable for you, write them a letter explaining your feelings.  Although they might feel worried, as a parent myself, I can tell you that most parents will be very glad that you came to them for help.

  Chances are, they've already noticed changes in your behavior and were already concerned.  Now that you are both communicating about your feelings, this will give your parents a chance to help you.

Of course, it's possible that you don't have that kind of parents.  Not everyone has an ideal family and it's possible that they may react very badly to the news.

  What should you do then?  In this case, it's still very important that you seek out help from someone that you trust.  That someone could be a relative, a teacher, a school counselor, the pastor of your church, a close friend or anyone that you feel safe with.  Even if you can't see a doctor or therapist, just talking with someone can be very helpful.  They may be able to help you find a solution for the problems you are facing that you aren't able to find alone.  Or they may help simply by giving you the love and support and that you need until your bad feelings pass.  In some cases, they may also be able to speak with your parents for you and smooth the way for you to get professional help.  The bottom line, though, is you should speak with someone about what you are feeling.  Ideally, that will be your parents; but, if they aren't supportive, seek out someone else whom you trust.

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