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Depressed young teen

Community Member
Hi, I have a 13 year old who is suffering from depression and is harming herself. She is so withdrawn and will not interact with us at home - won’t watch a movie together, refuses to come on family outings or walks, refusing to eat with us. I’m really sad and scared. What can I do? She has started medication and sees many docs/counsellors but I can’t get her to interact with us. It’s breaking my heart 💜 
5 Replies 5

Dear Mitten20,

Firstly, welcome to the forums we are so glad that you found your way to this supportive and welcoming community. We hope that you find ideas, options and support from the shared experiences and knowledge of all our members. Our heart goes out to anyone who is suffering depression, esecially when they are so young and we are so pleased that you have had the resilience to reach out to the forums for assistance.

If you need more immediate contact, please use our Beyond Blue support service 24/7, either via phone 1300 22 4636 or web chat: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support


Sophie M

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi mitten20,


Im so sorry your 13 year old is going through this I understand it would be so hard for her and yourself.


Im sorry your daughter is finding it hard to interact with you and the family.


I have a lived experience of severe anxiety OCD while I was experiencing this condition I was becoming withdrawn the reason for this was that I had alot of distressing thoughts and they where usually about the ones I loved which scared me.


I also had so much going on inside my mind that I found it hard to interact on a social level.


In regards to my self feeling like withdrawing from family members I was able to push back at this and still make myself be around my family, I understand your daughter is only 13 and may be finding her thoughts and emotions hard to deal with.


This is just an example of what I was experiencing I understand that it may not be the same as your daughters, I also understand our conditions are different.


Your-daughter my be finding it hard to navigate what is going on inside her mind.


What can you do? Just be there for her without judgement sometimes just sitting with her is helpful even if you don’t talk.


I understand it’s hard but just love her I really hope things improve soon.

Community Champion
Community Champion



Thank you for being so open about your experience, and welcome to our forums. I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through, I can only imagine how painful it must be. I can see Sophie M and Petal22 have already offered some amazing words of support, and I'm here to offer my own from the perspective of a daughter who has had mental health struggles at a similar age.


I know that when I was struggling as a teen, I almost felt like admitting my struggle to my parents symbolised failure, or that I wasn't strong enough to work through things on my own. While I now know that it's okay to ask for help when you need it, this was a difficult concept for me to grasp when I was in the midst of my struggles as I felt perhaps like I would be burdening others if I confided in them. This may not be exactly your daughter's experience, but it may be a potential reason as to why she has withdrawn.


I would like to echo Petal22's advice here. Sometimes just the company of somebody we love may be so comforting. Just letting her know that you're still there for her if she needs, continuing to invite her to outings, dinner, etc. She may still appreciate the gesture, even if she's continuing to withdraw. If she's open to it, you can ask if she'd like to accompany you while doing something silent and individual, like writing, reading, watching TV, or simply sitting outside and watching the world pass. 


If she's open to hearing it and if you are comfortable/able to, you could even share with her any similar experiences that you may have had. This can be another way of letting her know that you are able to empathise with her, and it will perhaps make her feel less isolated in her own experiences. 


Please feel free to continue chatting with us, we're here to support you.


Kind regards, SB

Community Member

You need to find out the core reason. There is always one. Sometimes more than one. When you are that young, you don't have the ability to solve problems as well. Hormones will also be making it harder to open up to parents. She may be embarrassed. Overwhelmed. She needs your input into solving the problem because you may be able to see the solution as an adult. If she won't talk to you, I suggest talking to her counselor. There is client, patient privacy but for a 13 year old, there may be suggestions the counselor can make that you can do that can help. As the guardian, you need to be involved to some extent. 

In my experience, self harm has an attention seeking component. That means they are looking for input from others in addition to the relief from mental stress. While a counselor is great, only a parent can implement lifestyle change for the child.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear mitten20, I am so sorry your beautiful young daughter is experiencing such deep depression.
I'm also sorry for what you and your family are going through in trying to support her. 


You can call 1800RESPECT or the BB Helpline to get support for YOU, so you can get guidance on how to support your daughter. 


I've been through this and it was REALLY scary and traumatising. My daughter has made it through this after many years. I sought support from so many MH sectors, including our GP. Meds didn't work etc etc.. 


The ONE thing that helped the most (and seemed the most ridiculous advice at the time, I'll be honest!) was my OWN self-care. 
Doing self-care activities around her. 
Asking her if she wanted to eg go to the hairdressers, go to get her toenails done, get an extra foot treatment. It didn't always worked but I kept offering. 


Asking her to come food shopping with me to get her favourite food and drink items - it took years before she did, but I didn't stop asking. 


Talking with her school and requesting a "time out card" where if she felt overwhelmed in class, she could flash that card and go to the Wellbeing Hub. She also had support for exams. She left school "early" and has improved a lot, works full time and loves working. 


My daughter's POV is that our rescue dog saved her. I got her a rescue dog. She had to be involved choosing treats for him. Buying him a cute Winter jacket.... a living thing that loved her unconditionally and "needed her". She carries him around like a baby lol. 


We're here any time you need to talk things out. 
Love EM