The mug may say ‘world’s greatest mom or dad’, but when your daughter has depression, you certainly don’t feel like you deserve it.

Whilst all teenagers go through some depression, you know your daughter’s situation is different. She’s lost her enthusiasm for life and you’re not sure it’s coming back. As much as you wish you could help her, you can’t and you don’t know why.

When you watch your daughter slip away, parents often feel like part of them is slipping away as well. What’s worse is that, with that, comes the feeling feel of being weak and helpless. Parents are supposed to protect and heal. You would, if only you knew what to do.

Before you can help your daughter through her depression, you must first address the reasons it affects you so deeply. Doing so means you’ll have a chance of seeing through the ongoing effects of depression and help her embark on a journey towards healing.

Reason You’re Affected #1: Fear.

It’s been said that fear is primarily rooted in a lack of knowledge. Parents feel fear when their daughter is suffering from depression because without knowing what’s going on, they can’t know how to help her. Even though you may not be able to find out what caused your daughter’s depression or how to fix it, you can still learn basic coping skills such as how to talk to her, how to provide her with hope, and how to spot symptoms of worsening depression. When you come from a place of support and love, you let her know it’s safe to begin her journey of process of feeling better.

Reason You’re Affected #2: Anger.

Anger is the only emotion that puts instant fear in people. However, parents who feel angry when they see their daughter going through depression are often having a natural reaction as their protective instincts kick in. You see your daughter hurt. You want to know who or what caused it and to make sure it can never go near her again. The problem is, with depression, there is rarely a root cause you can weed from existence. Depression emerges from multiple intertwining thought patterns, emotions, and events. Parents in this situation need to find productive ways of dealing with their anger. Talk to a friend or a counsellor. Get in touch with a support group. Learn to forgive yourself if you’ve misdirected the anger in the past and make a commitment to creating an environment that, while may not always be perfect, is safe, loving, and committed to finding a solution for her.

Reason You’re Affected #3: Helplessness.

When parents realize their daughter is suffering through depression, sometimes they subconsciously try to fight that battle for her. They may push her to do certain activities or speak to her as though she constantly needs a pep talk. They may also find themselves telling her that she’s not really depressed in the hopes that saying so will make it true. While well-intentioned, the approach always fails in practice because your daughter is the only one who can to improve her reality. In fact, having a parent speak for her will only make her feel more helpless as she begins the process. You can help her best by repositioning yourself as a pillar of support. You can remind her that she’s capable of getting through this on her own, and you’ll be there any time she needs your help.

The better you get at working through your own emotions, the more you’ll be able to help your daughter work through hers. You will develop the kinds of tools and resources that contribute to real, long-term solutions for your daughter’s happiness and mental health.