While depression can make things feel hopeless, having loving support from family can really make a difference.

One of the most meaningful parts of being a parent to an adult child may be watching them navigate adulthood. Whether that could be mentoring them as they pursue a new career or walking them down the aisle as they get married, there may be so many memorable moments to share as adults.

But even with almost all the parenting experience in the world, nothing can be easy about watching your child navigate the symptoms of depression. As a parent, however, you can take steps to support your child so that they can get the help they need to start feeling better.

Below, we’ll explore ways that parents can help an adult child living with depression, including how to find professional support and some of the available treatment options to explore.

Depression can make it difficult to socialize, engage in work and school tasks, or take care of everyday responsibilities. However, for adults with depression, having a solid foundation of support can go a long way in reducing some of the effects that this condition can have.

If you’re the parent of a child who lives with the symptoms of depression, here are just a few meaningful ways that you can emotionally support them.

Open a line of communication

One of the best ways to help someone with depression is to open up the floor for them to communicate honestly without the fear of judgment.

Open communication can validate your child’s thoughts and feelings and help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. And remember, communication doesn’t always have to be just talking — spending time or doing other activities together can also provide chances to communicate openly.

Be empathetic and understanding

If you’ve never experienced feelings of depression yourself before, empathy and understanding can go a long way in validating what your child’s going through.

For example, sometimes, depression might cause your child to act in ways you don’t expect or understand, like not cleaning the house, socializing with friends, or going to work or school. But depression isn’t a choice — and acknowledging that fact can help you feel more empathetic and understanding toward what your child’s experiencing.

Educate and reduce the stigma

Reading and learning more about depression is a great way to educate yourself on the condition and reduce mental health stigma.

Understanding what depression is and what it looks like can help you support your child without judgment, which makes it more likely that they’ll even reach out in the first place. Reducing the stigma and educating others can also encourage your child to reach out for help instead of hiding or living in shame.

When to get professional support

Support from family and friends can make a huge difference for someone living with depression, but treatment can have a bigger effect.

If your child is showing signs of a mental health crisis or talking about suicide, encourage them to call or text the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at “988” for free and confidential support. If they become an immediate danger to themselves or others, call emergency services for help.

Keep reading to learn more about resources for those with depression.

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We may all want to support the people we love, but there can be such a thing as unhelpful support — and enabling your child without encouraging them to prioritize their own mental health needs might do more harm than good.

If you’re worried that your support enables your child’s depression rather than helps, consider working with a family therapist. With the right professional assistance, you and your loved ones can find a healthy emotional balance for just about everyone involved.

A note on boundaries

As a parent, it may feel natural to want to support your child in whatever way you can. But it’s important to acknowledge and understand that even if you want your child to get better, you can’t “fix” their depression for them.

Just like you expect your child to respect your boundaries, respect your child’s boundaries and decisions when it comes to treating their depression. Autonomy and independence are important parts of their journey to recovery.

Learn more about setting boundaries with someone with depression.

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Treatment options for depression generally include therapy, medication, or both approaches.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective therapy approaches for depression, while doctors often prescribe antidepressants to help address depressive symptoms. If you connect with a family practitioner, they may have a recommendation for depression medication or a psychiatrist you could speak with.

Therapy for depression

If your child tries therapy and doesn’t find it beneficial, they might need help finding the right type of therapy for them. Depending on their preference, you could introduce them to various therapy types for depression, such as:

If you’re interested in exploring or sharing more mental health resources for depression, here are a few to get you started:

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, affecting many people in the United States and worldwide. With the effect that depression can have on quality of life, support from loved ones — including parents — can be important.

If you have an adult child who lives with the symptoms of depression, providing support, encouragement, and accountability can make a huge difference in their recovery journey.