How to Tell Someone, “I’m Depressed,” and Ask for Help
By Lauren Krouse
It takes a lot of strength and courage to realize you’re depressed and could use some help. Like everyone else, you deserve compassion and care when you’re not feeling well.
Even when part of you knows you need help, it can feel really overwhelming or stressful, but don’t let it stop you from opening up. Talking about depression can be hard and awkward at first, but it’s worth pushing through so you can start to feel better.
Here are some things that can make talking about depression easier.
Ask Yourself Some Questions
Take some time to think through what you’re feeling and what you’d like to talk about. If you’re nervous, having something written on paper or your phone can help when you start the conversation. If you like to journal, that’s a great place to do it.
- How have I been feeling and how does it impact my day?
- What has changed in my mood, sleep, relationships, and life at school or work?
- What feelings or thoughts keep running through my mind?
- How long have I been noticing these thoughts and feelings?
If you’re wondering whether something is a sign of depression, check out this list and ask yourself if anything sounds familiar.
Pick Someone You Trust
Depression can make you feel like your struggles aren’t worth sharing or like there’s no one who’ll get it, but it is possible to find someone who can support you, no matter your situation. Think about people in your community. Who would be a good listener? Who tends to be kind and nonjudgmental? Possible people:
- Parent or guardian
- Older family member
- Teacher or professor
- School counselor or coach
- Church leader or spiritual adviser
If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the above people, that’s OK. Sometimes it’s easier to start with someone who’s not a part of your life. Consider talking with a trained peer counselor at Teen Line. They’re available to listen every day from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. PT (9 p.m. to midnight ET). They can help you brainstorm where to find good resources. To connect, call 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839-863. If you need help right now:
- Text HOME to 741-741 for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor any time of day.
- Text or call 988 or use the chat function at 988lifeline.org.
- If this is a medical emergency or there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.
Game Plan How It May Go
If you feel iffy about how the conversation will go, practice what you’re thinking of saying with a friend or write it out. Don’t be afraid to say out loud what you’re worried about happening, such as, “My mom’s going to freak out.” Consider what you can do to prepare for this possibility, such as saying, “Mom, I’m worried you’re going to freak out, but it’s hard for me to open up about this so I’m asking you to please hear me out first.” Also consider what you can do if it happens, such as asking her to listen to you, taking a break from the conversation and coming back to it later, or talking with someone else.
Pick a Place and Time
Try to plan ahead for a moment when you’ll have the space and energy for a genuine conversation. Think about times you’ve been able to open up in the past, such as during a car ride or walk home, after dinner, or over a weekend.
Ask for Help
When the time comes, say what you need to say—even if you don’t know exactly what you need (and it’s OK to say that too!). If they downplay your feelings as a “normal” part of growing up, share specific examples of why this isn’t normal for you. Emphasize that you can’t manage it on your own anymore, and you want professional support.
If you’re having thoughts about suicide, it’s really important to share it with an adult you can trust. Here’s a guide for how to tell someone you are thinking about suicide.
Have a Backup Plan
Sometimes the person you decide to tell isn’t ready to help you the way you need and deserve to be helped. That can be really stressful and upsetting, but you’re not alone. These things happen. You know your situation better than anyone else. You have two options: Try again later or turn to someone else for support.
Keep Trying Until Someone Helps
Dread, anxiety, and depression are probably telling you not to take these steps. It may be easier to ignore what’s going on, but depression tends to get worse when you leave it alone. Reaching out for help is one of the strongest things you can do right now, and your future self will thank you. As you check off these steps, remember that many people are fighting similar battles. Every one of us deserves to feel heard, seen, and supported—including you.
Check out these articles to learn more about depression and get the help you—or someone you care about—needs:
What’s the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?
How Do I Know If It’s Depression?
Different Types of Depression: What’s the Difference Between Mild, Moderate, and Severe?
How Is Depression Diagnosed and Treated?
6 Tips for Managing Depression
What Is the Connection Between Suicide and Depression?