10 Signs Your Parents Are Making You Depressed

Most psychologists will tell you that one of the most important things you need to fight depression is to have a strong support system with you. That’s why so many patients with clinical depression not only seek therapy for themselves but for their families as well. Because the battle against depression isn’t one you can win on your own – you need people by your side who support you, empower you, understand you, and love you through all your ups and downs.

But…what if these people aren’t your family? What if it’s actually your parents themselves causing you so much of the psychological damage and emotional trauma you are trying to undo?

If you’re interested in learning about the specific dynamics of a toxic relationship between a parent and child, Psych2Go has created a playlist and uploaded videos on toxic father-daughter relationships, toxic mother-daughter relationships, toxic father-son relationships, and toxic mother-son relationships on our YouTube channel. This article only aims to tackle the ways your parents may be making you depressed without you realizing it, and what you can do about it.

With that said, here are 10 signs you need to look out for:

1. They hold you back from your dreams

Often times, because our parents believe that they always know what’s best for us, they try to steer us in a different direction. But it’s important that every child has the freedom to make their own path and decide for themselves what it is they want to do with their lives. If your parents try to make that decision for you, without even considering how you feel or listening to what you have to say, it can cause you to foster some resentment towards them and feel as if you have to sacrifice your happiness just to please them.

2. They put a lot of pressure on you

Another way that your parents might be causing you to be unhappy is by putting too much pressure on you and expecting you to live up to their unrealistically high expectations. They might tell you that you’re “the only good thing in their life” and want to live vicariously through you, so you feel compelled to stay by their side and prioritize their happiness over yours (Levine, 2006).

3. They’re emotionally unavailable to you

Do your parents usually act cold and distant towards you? Do you find it hard to talk to them or open up to them about certain things? If you can’t connect with your parents on an emotional level, it can leave you with a lot of difficulties in your relationships as you grow older. You will likely struggle to form and maintain meaningful relationships with others because your parents never taught you the value of emotional vulnerability. And this can leave you feeling disconnected and isolated from everyone else in your life, which could lead you to spiral into depression.

4, Their presence overwhelms you

The moment your parents tell you’re they’re coming to visit you, your initial reaction is always anxiety and panic instead of the usual happiness and relief most people feel. That should already your first clue that there is something very wrong with your relationship with your parents. Whenever they’re around, you feel tense and uncomfortable; you have difficulty concentrating and become less focused and attentive; and you always end up feeling emotionally drained afterwards.

5. They worsen your depression

Do your symptoms seem to get worse whenever your parents are around? If spending time with your parents makes you miserable, then that’s a good sign that they’re toxic for you. Maybe they’re too harsh and inconsiderate; or petty, self-centred, and inconsiderate. Whatever the reason may be, it’s okay to admit that you don’t want to be around your parents if all they do is bring negativity and pain into your life. (If you’re interested in reading more, here are 20 Signs You Have A Toxic Parent and 7 Signs You Have A Toxic Home Environment).

6. Their dysfunction rubbed off on you

Like most children who came from a dysfunctional family, all your maladaptive ways of coping with your problems, you learned from your parents. And while other kids might have been taught important values and positive coping mechanisms (like talking about your feelings and knowing when to reach out for help), your parents showed you how to push people away and deal with your issues in an unhealthy way. You often isolate yourself from others and have difficulty controlling your emotions. You may be easily upset or angered, and prone to emotional breakdowns – all of which are concerning signs of depression (American Psychological Association, 2013).

7. Their mental illness affects you

It’s difficult to have a parent with a mental illness because their struggle is, in many ways, a burden for their children to bear as well. Growing up with a mentally ill parent can affect us in a lot of negative ways, as a number of different studies have shown. Parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), for example, are often emotionally and psychologically abusive towards their children (Dutton, Denny-Keys, & Sells, 2011). And having a parent with depression makes you much more likely to develop an anxiety disorder or depression of your own (Olfson, et al., 2003).

8. They struggle with substance abuse

Having an alcoholic or a drug addict for a parent most likely means you haven’t had an easy life. Even if your parents have tried to quit or stay clean, those who struggle with substance abuse are often neglectful, unreliable, and emotionally unavailable. They can’t provide the sense of safety and security that every child needs growing up, and unfortunately, have a tendency to turn abusive and lead their children to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or substance abuse problems of their own as they grow older (Famularo, Kinscherff, & Fenton, 1992).

9. They have become abusive

Domestic violence and parental abuse (be it physical, emotional, or psychological in nature) can have a lot of damaging effects on a child and leave them traumatized for years to come (Glaser, 2017). Even if your parents didn’t start out as abusive, once they repeatedly and regularly intimidate you, threaten you, physically/emotionally harass you, and manipulate you, then they are putting your mental health at risk.

10. They don’t help you overcome your depression

Finally, even if your parents aren’t doing anything to cause your depression directly, they are still making things worse by not supporting you in your struggle against it and helping you overcome your mental illness. They remain ignorant about the nature of depression and don’t make any effort to better educate themselves about it. They refuse to believe that you have “anything to be so sad about” because they’ve “been good parents to you” and they discourage you from reaching out to a guidance counsellor or mental healthcare professional about it.

Accepting that your parents may be playing a part in the depression you feel is hard thing to face, especially since they are supposed to be the most important support system in your life. But no matter how much you want to work things out, you need to put yourself and your own well-being first. Overcoming depression is no easy feat, and it can be even more difficult and daunting without your parents by your side, but don’t lose hope. There are still people in your life who love you and care about you, so focus your energy on them instead. Reach out to a mental healthcare professional today and get the help you need to get better.



  • American Psychological Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – 5th Edition. Washington, DC; APA Publishing.
  • Levine, M. (2006). The price of privilege: How parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids. Harper Collins Publishers.
  • Dutton, D. G., Denny-Keys, M. K., & Sells, J. R. (2011). Parental personality disorder and its effects on children: A review of current literature. Journal of Child Custody8(4), 268-283.
  • Olfson, M., Marcus, S. C., Druss, B., Pincus, H. A., & Weissman, M. M. (2003). Parental depression, child mental health problems, and health care utilization. Medical care, 716-721.
  • Famularo, R., Kinscherff, R., & Fenton, T. (1992). Parental substance abuse and the nature of child maltreatment. Child abuse & neglect16(4), 475-483.
  • Glaser, D. (2017). Emotional Abuse and Neglect: A Study of Psychological Maltreatment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 26 (17); 697-714.

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  1. I loved this article! I unfortunately do have toxic parents that heavily affect my depression and anxiety; but I do what I can to work through things and live a better life.

    Also, how can I contact Psych2Go? I have questions regarding their articles and team members. Thank you!


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