Five Parenting Tips for When Your Teenager is Anxious and Depressed

Our mindset ALWAYS matters. It affects the way we get through our days, weeks, months and lives, and it also affects the way our families get through their days, weeks, months and lives. Even though you are the parent, parenting is never just about you. 

And the stakes are even higher when you find yourself parenting an adolescent who is experiencing anxiety, depression or some combination of the two. 

Diagnoses of mental illness are hard to accept because:

  • You can’t see there is something physically wrong.
  • You may feel ashamed of being diagnosed with anxiety or depression.

If the diagnosis is for your adolescent, then you may also feel:

  • You’ve failed as a parent.
  • Ashamed of what other people will think about you, your parenting and your family.
  • You have no one to talk to about how you’re feeling.
  • You have no idea how to ‘fix’ your adolescent.
  • Guilty for not being onto this sooner.

What You Can Do

The very first thing I want you to understand is this is not your illness. Your adolescent has had the diagnosis. They are responsible for their healing. Your role, as their parent, is to support their healing. Here are some hard won lessons from our family’s experience of anxiety and depression.

  1. Trust your adolescent to heal. Their body has the ability to heal itself. It has done this countless times before now and it will do it again.
  2. Celebrate the little wins on their healing journey. Getting out of bed. Getting dressed. Eating something. Sitting in the sun. Going for a walk. Crying. Talking. Notice the little wins, acknowledge them as little wins and hold yourself accountable for high-fiving them.
  3. Keep expressing your love for them. See past the anxiety and depression they are experiencing and talk about the way they were when they were younger and the ways they will be when they are managing again. 
  4. Manage your mindset. This is hard work. You can choose to be dedicated, patient and compassionate. Find someone outside of the house and your family situation who can help you. And let them help.
  5. Stick to a daily routine that lets the rest of the family continue on with their lives and still supports your challenged adolescent. This includes the basics: sleep, healthy food, water and movement.

You will have times of overwhelm, when the enormity of your position hits you. Find someone to share your load and be kind to yourself. Talk lovingly to the face in the mirror because, right now, you are doing an amazing job. 


My course Bit-by-Bit is especially designed to support parents of teenagers experiencing anxiety and depression. If you’d like support click here to find out more.

Sign up for First Steps

A series of four lessons that cover:

  • Panic Attacks:  How to help if your teen is having panic attacks
  • Safety at home:  Steps to take to keep your teen safe in their own home if they are suicidal
  • Self harm:  What to do if you find out your teen has been self harming
  • Building bridges:  Keeping your teen in contact with the rest of the world

The lessons are delivered daily with a workbook

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