Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to Your Child With Depression

Is your child struggling with depression? You are not alone. Depression and anxiety are more common than you might think. One in four Americans struggle with depression at some point in their lives, meaning almost everyone knows a friend or family member that has experienced symptoms of depression. 
With rates of depression on the rise, people are becoming more aware of how to notice signs of depression. However, it is harder to understand how to talk to someone struggling with depression and how to support them. It’s natural to feel powerless, frustrated, anxious, confused, conflicted, defeated, and unequipped. To help navigate these conversations, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts for supporting someone who is depressed.

DO’s of talking to child with depression

  • Listen without judgment. The easiest place to start when someone confides in you? “I believe you.” Let them know that you are there to listen and that you want to understand what they are going through. 
  • Offer encouragement and support. Although you may want to jump in and rescue them, practice active listening rather than offering a “solution.” When you do respond, reflect the emotions that they’re feeling instead of talking about the problems they’re facing. It is possible to express empathy and support without comparing their experiences to your own or anyone else’s.
  • Help them find resources. Your teen may not know how to describe how they’re feeling or how to answer questions you may have. While depression may be something you are familiar with, there are a lot of misconceptions about causes of depression and treatment options.

DON’Ts of talking to your child with depression

  • Minimize what they’re going through. Even if you’ve had firsthand experience with depression, everyone’s experience is different. You may be tempted to share other people’s success stories to offer hope, but it can invalidate the pain they’re feeling in the moment. Stick with empathizing with their emotions rather than identifying with their situation. While they may have social support and positive things in their lives, pointing these factors out may make them feel misunderstood or ashamed for not being “grateful enough.”
  • Neglect your own needs in the process. It is natural to want to do everything you can to support your teen, but it is important to balance focusing your energy on their well being and on your own. Make sure you’re practicing self-care and getting the support you need from others as well. Don’t take it personally if they are not responsive to the support you offer. It does not mean that you are unable to help or that you should stop trying, but they may benefit from additional support.
  • Try to fix their problems on your own. Depression is a serious mental health condition that requires professional treatment. Although they help, social support and positive affirmations aren’t enough to “cure depression.” Depression is something that can be managed by learning healthier coping mechanisms, but can’t necessarily be fixed. 


Trails Carolina Can Help

Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with behavioral and emotional issues. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. By removing teens from their fast-paced environment into a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment, they are able to focus on improving and reflecting upon their behavior. Trails Carolina gives students the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives.
Contact us at 800-975-7303. We can help your family today!

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Jeremy Whitworth

As Executive Director at Trails Carolina, a leading wilderness therapy program for youth and teens, I oversee operations and collaborate with our leadership team. Since 2022, I've also hosted the Common Ground Podcast for parents: With a background in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I've managed adventure-based therapeutic programs across the US and Canada. My experiences in competitive athletics and adventure sports have honed my leadership, risk assessment, and decision-making skills, which I apply to running a successful business like Trails Carolina.

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Trails saved my daughter’s life. Amanda is an amazing human and a brilliant therapist. I am so grateful to her, Science Steve, and the other wonderful people who could reach my daughter at a time when I could not.

Margot Lowman August 2022

Great life changing experience for our son. After becoming addicted to gaming during covid he was very depressed. At Trails he experienced the wilderness, Science Steve, learning survival skills and top notch therapy and support etc… I highly recommend! This gave our son and our family a renewed family bond full of love and excitement about his bright future.

Winnifred Wilson July 2022


Outstanding clinical work and superb staff! There’s a great culture at this company and it shows with how they engage with families/clients.

Kristin Brace June 2022


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