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How to approach my 19 year old son about his possible depression

Community Member



My 19-year-old son has all the signs of depression. My GP agrees with me. But I have no idea how to approach him about it. My wife says to find a doctor, make an appointment, and force him to go. But I want to take a gentler approach and find some way to talk to him about it and make it look like we are ganging up on him.


How would you go about talking to him about it?



5 Replies 5

Community Champion
Community Champion


thanjs for your question and caring for your son. 
I would talk in general terms about behaviour changes.

for example, if he is having trouble sleeping you could talk about what works for you.

i suppose talking about depression and Drs important may come in Time but at the moment he needs to know you are listening not judging and not telling him what to do.
He may be feeling very lost and confused and frustrated. 
I am sure others will have ideas. 
thanks again for reaching out. 

He did see a sleep specialist but they said that his sleep was normal for a teenager. None of the doctors have picked up on the possible depression.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Puggs


Your son is blessed to have such caring parents, especially yourself who wishes to be careful in taking a gentler approach. I can't help but wonder whether your son's a sensitive guy who's struggling with the ability to sense or identify what's so depressing in his life. As a mum to an 18yo guy and 21yo gal, I've found being honest helps while also leading my kids to get a better sense of what feels challenging to them at times. Being thoughtful in validating their feelings can be so important too. None of that 'Everyone goes through this stage of life or this kind of thing. You'll be right'. More so, 'While I or other people may be able to relate to how you feel and how you're feeling this challenge, you're the only one who can fully feel it from your perspective'.


I've found the honesty part can come down to telling the truth. Kind of along the lines of 'Gee, life is tough at times. There are times where I have no idea how to do life. I can feel so unbelievably lost and it can feel lonely. I want you to know even I need guides during those times. I can't do life without guides on occasion'. Guides can come in so many different forms. Whether they're the people who can lead us to see what we just can't see at the time, such as the way forward, or they're people who can offer us financial guidance, psychological guidance, course guidance in the way of education, a soulful sense of guidance or something else, it sounds like your son has a great and conscious guide in you for a start.


I've found sometimes it can be so hard to get a really good sense of what I'm feeling and it helps if there's someone to lead me to better make sense of my feelings. For example, I could say 'I feel depressed but I can't get a sense of exactly what's depressing me'. Because I've got sensitive kids, they happen to be good at sensing. So, brainstorming can sound a little like them asking 'Can you sense a lack of adventure that could be depressing you or a depressing lack of excitement (which of course doesn't help dopamine levels)?', 'Is there some sense of frustration?', 'Could you be feeling a sense of loneliness and a need to connect with people?' or 'Can you sense a depressing lack of energy, with the need to identify why the energy's not there?'. So, we kind of sit there exploring possibilities until I can feel someone hit on what the challenge is about or what the challenges are about. If your son isn't someone who'd be likely to go see a psychologist, maybe you could lead him to get a sense of needing some form of guidance. Whether that guide ends up being a psychologist, based on you helping him identify that need, or it ends up being a personal trainer/guide at the local gym (in order to experience a change in life and some personal progress), at least you'd be leading him to develop getting a sense of the need for guidance in his life.

Community Member

I'm in a similar situation with my own 19yo. He's been smoking a bit of pot and a bit demotivated. My psychologist advised me to let him know that we don't judge and we're hear for him. My son and I spoke about triggers and whether he's craving, but he indicated he's not craving too badly. 


I'm trying to keep him distracted and focused on his TAFE studies, without helicoptering him.


It's probably right that you want to take the more gentle approach and not 'force' your son. He needs autonomy and dignity. Let him know you're there for him. Maybe speak to a counsellor yourself for some tips that will help  you as a parent with your son.

Community Member

I am lucky he is totally against smoking and drugs. 


We have gone out to dinner the last two Saturdays, and yesterday, we went shopping, where he brought home items and such. 


He has been buying new clothes, so maybe he wants to go out.


His braces come off in under two months, and he will start online uni at the end of May. I am hoping that will make him more confident in going out.