How To Help A Millennial With Depression

Young female crouched over a bench looking sad and in despair

Worried about a loved one in their twenties or thirties who seems depressed? They may be having a quarterlife crisis, which is a common experience during emerging adulthood, as young adults are turning 25 or approaching 30. Millennials who are going through a quarter life crisis are at risk for depression and anxiety.

A quarter life crisis is real and shouldn’t be ignored.

Are you wondering how you can help? Family members, often parents, contact me for guidance on how to help their millennial child. They express concern about their son or daughter seeming sad and lost in life.

Here are some of the most common quarter life crisis symptoms:

  • tearfulness
  • irritability
  • lack of motivation
  • hopelessness
  • anxiety about the future
  • difficulty making decisions
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleep
  • substance abuse (read more about binge drinking among millennials).

If you have observed any of these symptoms in your loved one (or any of the symptoms described in this post), you may be wondering how to talk to him or her about it.


This blog post provides 3 tips on how to talk to your loved one.

1) Be respectful, not confrontational.

You are understandably concerned about your millennial, especially if they are living at home post-college. You also may be very frustrated. If we look at the parent with a child living at home, this combination of concern and frustration sometimes, ends up sounding like this, “How’s your job search going? You need to get a job. All you do is sleep and watch TV all day.”

This approach SHUTS DOWN OPEN COMMUNICATION because it is accusational and puts the other person on the defensive.

You cannot help someone with whom you are not effectively communicating.

 A better approach would be to say something like this:

“I’m worried about you because you don’t seem like yourself lately. How have you been feeling? What’s been on your mind?”

Remember to use a supportive approach, and try to understand how they are thinking and how long they’ve been feeling this way.

2) Listen. Really listen.

Depending on the relationship the two of you have and their personality, they may be hesitant to talk about their emotions. Unfortunately, there still exists a stigma in our culture about mental health, and this stigma affects how open people are about their struggle with depression.

If they choose to open up about it with you, remember to express empathy and try to put yourself in their shoes to understand what they are going through. Try to refrain from saying things like, “Cheer up! You have a great life – you shouldn’t feel sad.” Although these statements are often said with the best intentions, they end up minimizing the other person’s experience.

The best thing you can do is just listen and try to understand how they’re feeling. Let them know you’re there for them to listen or just to hang out. Encourage them to lean on the support of people in their life, and remind them they don’t have to go through this alone. If it seems appropriate, ask them if they’ve considered speaking to a counselor.

3) Follow up.

Follow up within a couple of weeks of your initial conversation.

You may be hesitant to bring it up again for fear of bothering the other person or seeming pushy, especially if they were uncomfortable in the first conversation. If you follow Tips #1 and #2 above, they will be likely to appreciate your following up with them.

This is critical because:

  • It provides them an opportunity to open up more. Sometime people need a few chances to warm up to the idea of expressing their feelings openly.
  • It gives you an opportunity to communicate anything you forgot to mention in the first conversation and to share any resources you’ve come across in the meantime.
  • It reminds them that it’s important to deal with their depression so they can feel better again.
  • It reassures them that there are people like you who want to help them and that they don’t have to struggle alone.


About Quarterlife Center (QLC):

Our QLC Counselors specialize in working with individuals and couples in their 20s and 30s in a supportive, caring, confidential setting. We will work with you to help you identify your passions, achieve your goals and thrive in your life.

We offer the following services to clients:

If you’d like more information or you’re interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact us at 1-844-QLC-TALK (1-844-752-8255) or email us here.