Anxiety and Depression Support
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Mother of a depressed 22 year old

My son is 22 now, but has been battling depression and anxiety since he was 15 years old. He has dropped out of college, and his depression has been really bad this past year. When he was younger and dropped out of high school, he went to a school refusal program which helped him finish high school. He experienced the same troubles when he went to college. It seems every three years or so he gets "manic", and it lasts almost a year. I have convinced him to attend an intensive, outpatient program in which they have changed his meds and he has all new doctors and therapists now. He is back to being passively suicidal, and wants to quit program. With him being an adult, it is hard to get him admitted into the hospital. Can anyone give me some feedback? What else can I try to help him? I'm really at a loss.

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If he gets "manic" and depressed, he might have bipolar disorder. Then he needs to take appropriate meds for starters.

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Thank you. I have thought about that as well as borderline personality disorder. I'm waiting to see if the new psychiatrists diagnose either of these. He doesn't have the "highs" I have read about with bipolar but I am not a mental health professional so really don't know. Thank you for your input. I really do appreciate it.

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Dear upsetmamma,

I am so sorry about what YOU are going through, too...I know that has got to be so very rough...I am proud of you for writing and contacting this group! Hopefully your son visits with a psychiatrist on a one to one basis, too, not just in a group...

You sound like a wonderfully caring person and mother....but this is my advice to you...please, kind lady, please YOU also make some appts to visit with a therapist. You not only can use this...you DESERVE some professional help, too!! There is only so much you can do...and you have GOT to take care of yourself...this, actually, also, is helping your son by YOU staying strong. Please take the best of care of yourself.

Big hugs, Betty

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Thank you so much. I do see a therapist one on one. I am a single parent so often I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I appreciate your advice. And I definitely need the hugs:)

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Often times, as much as a patent wants to help a young adult child, we also have to be careful not to be overly involved in diagnosis and treatment. It can tend to exacerbate the sufferers feelings of inadequacy.

It's such a delicate balance, and often times it is hard to NOT help unless help is asked for. In my experience, if a parent is working as hard or harder at helping an adult who happens to be to be their offspring, it can give a subliminal message that they are desperately broken, rather that just needing a bit of help to re-balance themselves.

Of course, this may not be true in every case, but my extensive experience suggests that it very often is. If a parent looses themselves in over-parenting, both parent and offspring will experience a lot of personal imbalance, thus making the dynamic extremely un-healthy, even though that was not at all what was intended.

As far as a suggestion, which is what you requested, have you ever attended Al-Anon? That might be a very good place to start.

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Wow! You are so spot on with all of this. He knows I will spend hours giving him a "pep talk" when he is having a rough day. I find myself guilty of picking up his pieces constantly. I believe he knows that too so we repeat the same patterns over and over. And I have not attended Al-Anon. That is a great idea! I'm sure the same principles would apply to a family member with mental illness right? And I would be considered an enabler. Ugh! This has been an eye-opening post. Thank you for your honesty, knowledge, and great advice.

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Just an update - my son quit the intensive outpatient program. The meds he has been on have not been helping, so they try others. He had a terrible episode after starting a new med which made him hallucinate. He is off all meds. I searched for alternative help since the traditional method of trying different meds didn't work.

I found a clinical neuro psychologist who did two days of testing, as well as an EEG of his brain. Her results were staggering. No ADHD which was one of the meds he was on, and no bipolar, which was another med they were going to try. Instead she found he had some brain damage from being concussed at some point through sports, childbirth, or some other form. She found executive functioning issues, and the part of his brain that is damaged is causing much of his depression and anxiety. He will start neuro biofeedback treatment instead of more anti-depression meds. He also will need some physical therapy for fine motor skill issues that went undetected all these years.

I will post his progress as he continues treatment. I am optimistic that this will finally help him.

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