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Helping teen through depression

Staystrong2424 profile image

I was wondering if anyone could give me advice. My daughter’s depression is worse lately. I think it’s because they changed her meds. I’m hoping this medicine works. She’s always so sad and bitter. She has to force herself out of bed. She does well in school but doesn’t care. I don’t know what to do for her and how to help her. She won’t take any advice from me. It’s almost like she wants to be depressed. She had a fit because I just asked her if she wants to be depressed. She got very mad at me. She refuses to see her therapist. I’m just not sure what to do anymore. It’s also sad that she can’t see her friends because of covid. Any advice would be great. Thank you.

67 Replies

Thank you. That would be helpful. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking on pins and needles around her. I say the wrong thing and she doesn’t want to go to school. Lashes out at me. Does medication really help. She just started Zoloft. She was on Prozac but we think it was giving her migraines. Thank you for your help.

Yes. Thank you.

Thank you for being such a caring mother. She is very lucky to have you

Thank you for saying that. Sometimes I don’t feel like a very good mother. I feel like I can’t help her. I try so hard.

It’s good that you try, just remember that your daughter has to try too. You can’t force a recovery on her, however good your intentions may be. If she doesn’t want to, and you try to force it on her, that can drive a wedge in your relationship with her and cause her to backlash. If it’s her idea to recover, and her desire to do what’s needed for that, I think she’d be much more willing. But that’s something she has to come to of her own free will.

It’s definitely a wonderful thing that you’re willing and trying your best to help her :) you truly are a good mother. Just be mindful of how she might take what you say. Asking her if she wants to be depressed can come out with a negative connotation, so try to phrase things with a more positive outlook.

“Hey, how can I make this better for you? Is there anything I need to do differently?”

“Do you want to talk about what you’re feeling?”

“What’s your opinion on recovery and feeling better?”

“Do you have any ideas that might help you?”

Or something else that she wouldn’t think has any element of negativity.

The way you say things can have a big impact. I personally don’t like to hear my mom in her stressed/upset voice, it makes me uncomfortable and not want to talk. But, if my mom were to approach me in a gentle voice, with perceptible sincerity and love, I’d be much more comfortable and willing to talk about whatever’s going on :) the key there is that the atmosphere in which she lives in needs to be one that she feels comfortable in. When people are out of their comfort zone, it’s a lot harder to discuss personal matters. But when you take the time to show you care, and make things more comfortable for them, that makes a real difference :)

Just something to think about :) remember that she has her own side of the story, maybe she’s been trying to say something in her own unique way. I think we can all be a little better at truly listening and understanding.

I wish you and your daughter the best :)

Thank you so much. I try so hard to be understanding to her feelings. Thank you for the advice. I understand whst you are saying to say things in a gentle way. I definitely always keep that in mind. It’s so hard and sometimes I just don’t know what to do. Got great advice from someone on here. I just played a game with her. Her mood has changed from sad to happy. That’s why I go on here. You guys always help and don’t judge. Thank you.

You’re welcome, and good for you two! Games sound like a great opportunity for bonding and feeling better :)


I’m sorry to hear about you and your daughter. I have a daughter that is constantly depressed or wants to stay in her room too much. We went to therapy together for about a year and it did help. Now she is grown (40), but still has trouble from time to time. I think she needs medication but it’s her choice now that she is grown. I just pray everyday to let go of things I cannot change. I will pray for you and your daughter and try not to feel like you are failing as a mother.

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to

Thank you for reaching out. You certainly understand what I’m going through. It’s sad seeing our kids like this.

What is she diagnosed with? I feel

Your pain

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to JW621

It’s very sad. She has adhd, depression, anxiety and ocd. Poor baby has a lot that she’s dealing with. I hope her new medication helps. The good news is that the adhd is better with medication.

I think it’s really important to remember depression is an illness. I can understand why your daughter was upset when you asked if she wanted to be depressed - she doesn’t, I’m sure but it’s not a choice. In the same way you don’t ‘choose’ to have a physical illness, you don’t choose to have a mental illness.Unfortunately with depression, it can take away your motivation, energy and so much more which makes it hard to get yourself the treatment you need. It’s not just being sad and angry.

Have you asked her why she doesn’t want to see her therapist? Maybe she’d benefit from seeing someone new or a different type of therapy?

Sometimes advice, although well meaning, isn’t always helpful. Going back to my earlier point, it’s an illness, not just being ‘sad’ - the sort of advice you might give to help with everyday sadness won’t necessarily help or it might feel impossible to her to do some of things you’re suggesting.

The most important thing you can do is listen and support her. Ask her what you can do to help and be patient - as someone else said, she’s got to be ready to accept the help, you can’t make her better, no matter how much you wish you could.

Thank you for your kind advice. It’s appreciated. I’m trying to understand and learn how to help her. I even go to a therapist so that I can try to help her. I will do anything for her and I didn’t mean to say anything to make her upset. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s normal teen moodiness or depression. That’s why I reached out to everyone on here. I’m definitely learning more and more so that I can help her.

I’m kinda in the same situation, except now my daughter is resorting to weed to make her feel better.

I feel for you. It’s so hard. There’s a lot of people who have great advice on here. It has helped me.

I hope so, I’m new here and need a support group.

Most people on here are very nice and helpful. If you ever want to just vent or talk, feel free to message me. We are going through the same thing.

Is she remote learning? I heard a local story where they decided to be open and transparent with other families because being remote means conversation is happening in a tighter bubble. As a consequence kids are creating their own echo chambers which might be making things worse.

She is remote learning. It definitely is going to be a struggle for her to go back to school in person. The pandemic has made things worse for people with anxiety.

Is there a social worker at the school. Not suggesting this as an answer but it is well known this remote learning is an emotional challenge. Are you friendly with her friends parents? I remember as a teenager how we used to create our own bubbles of depression. It is a community problem too. That family that talked about their kid completely turned it around in their district... just by being transparent.

I am friendly with her friends parents. They are probably all going through hardships as well. That’s a good idea. Thank you.

I know it's hard to not walk on pins and needles around her, but sometimes being like that can make our depression worse. Really it's not your job to get her outnof her depression but to just learn to understand it and how it is unique to her. Small things can make a bigger effect the big things. Unfortunately that is difrent from person to person. Me it helps a bit when someone just shows some thought about me, like surprising me with my favorate food, or sudden plans to go somewhere I like... With some warning so I can mentally prepare for it of course, and following though.

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to Krand

Thank you for the great advice and for reaching out.

What age is she? Growing and hormones make medications a crap shoot and they will need to adjust frequently. If you have waited the appropriate time to get to "therapeutic levels" then it is time to call the doctor back. Have specific details of what she says or does.

In reality, how much quality sleep is she getting? Does she get any exercise?

Does she see her friends on-line? If it makes her feel any better, there are hundreds of millions of people in that same boat. Can you coordinate a drive by happy day for her? Have her friends decorate cars and pick a day and time to do a parade with music and honking. Then rotate to the other friends so they each get one in one next few weeks. Group video chats can become dance parties or craft hour. Whatever their hobbies are...

She is probably feeling like nothing is in her control. Maybe help her paint and redecorate her room. For resale purposes, no black . If she wants a dark color like navy or purple or red, just look at the color books with the paint person and do a light accent wall or trim.

Don't try to figure out what is making her sad. It is too much right not. Is she crafty? Home made cards for deployed military, Valentine's for elderly in nursing homes, make blankets for animal shelter or just collect old towels and blankets from the immediate neighborhood and family. (Sew up any loose ends.)

Does she speak to a family therapist?

For me, from 12 to 22 was the worst time for me and my depression. I rebelled as so many people tried to control me. She can't have normal back right now, so you have to be creative and find the next best things.

Thank you! It’s helpful to hear how other people have dealt with their depression. I’m learning as I go. She refuses to see her therapist. I’ve tried everything to encourage her to go back. She does zoom with her friends and we try to get together outdoors with her friends. She’s always seems so happy when she’s with them. But then she told me that she is faking being happy. It worries me. She was so happy when she was younger. The teen years are hard.

Zoloft (SSRIs) can have an effect on estrogen, so you may want to inquire about this with her GP and psychiatrist, even ask them to communicate (both will need releases of information).

I did not start mine until I was fully grown. The zoloft may be counteracting her natural body functions. I would assume there is a blood test for the hormone levels.

Zoloft also does take about 8 weeks to reach therapeutic levels.

Another thing that she might be more interested in is a therapy group. Ask the therapist who is running small groups for teen girls. Seeing she is not alone may bring her out. Right now, it is probably online. Tell her that she just has to go listen and does not have to share until she is ready. 1 to 1 teen to adult stranger is often very difficult.

Does she have any family members, aunt's, uncles, cousins, grandparent that she was close with as a kid?

I've been there as a mom. It's a horrible, helpless feeling. Sorry you're going through this. BUT she knows you love her! Just from my experience with my son the things that were received the best were:1. I love you

2. I'm here if you need to talk

3. Is there anything I can do or maybe not do that would help?

4. I'm going to check in with you everyday and ask you if you're ok. I need you to be honest with me. Just let me know how you are when I do and I won't push you to talk, but if you want to talk I'm always here.

He responded to that. I did ask him everyday and he'd tell me. I didn't push, but made sure he knew I wasn't going to ignore it. If she's willing there are many, many antidepressants to try since she doesn't want therapy.

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to lovemydoggy

I am helping my 18 year old son navigate a severe depression. He is in therapy and will likely start a new med today. He’s barely hanging on here at home. I’m terrified. I took FMLA. Thank you for the list of “what to say.” I keep wondering if there was a trauma that I don’t know about. He says no. I move on. It’s day by day. He’s low-functioning in this depression - high functioning student until this happened. I will seek therapy for myself this week and anti anxiety meds. What did you do for yourself to survive this?

I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this as well. It’s sad. My daughter went through a hard time with her best friend and her sport. Then hormones on top of that. I think it caused her to be depressed. So sad.

lovemydoggy profile image
lovemydoggy in reply to AlleyMc

I had therapy and took meds myself. I tried to stay connected with others. Lunch with friends. Went to a support group for parents of kids with mental illness. It's really helpful knowing you aren't alone. There's comfort in that. And tried to do amall things just for me. That last bit is really important and so easily forgotten. I'm in the states and attended NAMI meetings. I highly recommend it if you live in the US, but I'm sure there are similar organizations everywhere. Take care ❤️

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to lovemydoggy

This is helpful. I’m thinking of starting with anti- anxiety medicine. It’s so hard to watch a child suffer especially with how horrible depression is.

Thank you so much. This is so helpful. I do ark her every day how she is. She definitely loves the attention but when she is not mentally feeling well, she prefers to be alone. I will check in on her and bring her food. I am trying my best to understand how she is feeling so that I can help her. I appreciate all of your advice.

I am so sorry for what you are going through. My wife and I went through it with both our daughters, and the availability of child and adolescent psychiatrists was very limited where we lived. I also suffer from depression and anxiety, which is probably where they got it. They are both grown now and are doing well at navigating through life and both are successful. One is a mom.

That aside, there were some big lesson we learned along the way. First, it's essential they have both a good child and adolescent psychiatrist and a therapist. Second, deepening depression can be circumstantial or meds, or both. Third, it is up to you to just be there for her and let her know that you are by telling her. You didn't say how old she is but if she is a teenager, she is also dealing with hormones and social media too and that age lowers every year.

Be aware of mood changes (as you are doing), contact the psychiatrist who prescribed the meds and report any changes you are noticing because they may want to adjust the dosage (titration). You can use whatever leverage you have to get her to see a therapist on a regular basis. Make sure it's a therapist that specializes in your daughter's condition. Allow her to be mad at you for "forcing"her to go to therapy or the psychiatrist by trading privileges.

The hardest part for us was not being able to control the situation to help our daughters and what we learned was that this was impossible and unrealistic. It can make one frustrated and angry at times but the goal is to get to a positive outcome. This includes your daughter seeing her doctors and therapist, that she is stable, she is happier (not happy all the time) and comes to you when she has problems. In other words she is modulated in her response to everyday life events. This will likely come in baby steps, not all at once.

On top of all this, the pandemic and remote learning is definitely taking its toll on everyone, including younger people Here's a link:

You are a loving parent, working to make your daughter healthy but it is very hard. Perhaps you could reach out by phone to the therapist and see if your daughter might have an impromptu phone conversation with you leaving her your phone and leaving the room. Being creative, letting her know you are there for her and finding the right boundaries are important. Just respect what she may be feeling.

Good luck!

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to dmt1121

I’m curious what you meant that deepening depression could be meds ? My son was on Lexapro all fall and he’s debilitated right now with depression and he blames med - only 18 - tries to have answers to all of this. He came off then back on Lexapro - stopped it on his own in sept. Which we know is a no no. But at that time he was still showing signs of depression - withdrawal from school, etc. when he jumped back on Lexapro - symptoms worsened. He weened off. Now battling on his own in therapy. May start new med today but now has irrational fears of medication. A vicious cycle - I’m terrified. Thanks for being here.

dmt1121 profile image
dmt1121 in reply to AlleyMc

I am not a psychiatrist or doctor of any kind, so I can tell you only what we went through and some other events with my daughter's friends. Changing of meds and finding the right ones is art and science and each medication has varied effects for different people. The most critical time is when starting a new medication. The titration that I mentioned is the critical piece, along with close contact with the psychiatrist to inform them of any adverse effects. That's why every commercial for anti-depression and anxiety drugs is accompanied by a warning of possible worsening depression and anxiety.

It seems counter to the purpose of the medication but it is true. If the dosage of a new medication is increased too quickly, it can definitely make someone more depressed. In addition, even if the medication is properly titrated, it may not be the right match for your son. He might also need some sort of supplemental medication for anxiety.

I am not a big proponent of psychotropic medications, if they can be avoided because of all the potential side effects. However, they can be part or all of the solution to get "settled", or I like to call it grounded. With an interest in getting well and gaining the tool from his therapist, he may be able to reduce meds over time but that is very individual.

The response I got from my daughters was they felt in a fog and I remember the same thing when I took n anti-depressant. For me, an anti-anxiety med and mood stabilized works without putting me in a fog. The anti-depressants hav ealso worked for my daughter. I think they work because it is the anxiety that can cause the depression, depending on the person and their circumstances.

I hope that was somewhat helpful. Good luck!

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to dmt1121

I appreciate you writing all of this. My son is going to start prosac. I’m trying to be hopeful and he is too. He is really struggling?

dmt1121 profile image
dmt1121 in reply to AlleyMc

Just be there for him and keep in touch with his doctors and therapist. The therapist won't tell you what they discussed (you probably know this) but you can fill them in on how he is behaving at home, so they have that feedback. Hang in there, it can improve.

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to dmt1121

It’s helpful when you say, “it can improve.” I’m scared right now. My older daughter left to return to college a couple of days ago. They are so close. Also, she would bring friends into the house and that helped him. Last night he talked to me about his symptoms which I recognize as depression - he thinks he has lost his mind. Depression is so unfair. I keep questioning if I’m providing the right level of care. He is in an intensive outpatient program all virtual 3 days a week for three hours. He has a family therapy session as part of this with me involved and he sees a psychiatrist about once a week. No individual therapy. They learn skills in group. I know he is suffering. We are battling together each day. I had a severe depression at his age and I think that makes this more difficult for me since I know the pain. Thanks for being here.

dmt1121 profile image
dmt1121 in reply to AlleyMc

It sounds like you are doing all that you can. Other avenues may include diet and meditation.

I don't know your son's diet, but I remember my daughter's and was very hard to get her to eat anything other than processed "junk" food. All the additive do have an effect, as these studies and article explain.

You might also check online for youtube guided meditations for depression. Some are for teenagers. One is bound to "click" for your son. He can listen with bluetooth headphones on his phone or laptop.

Good luck.

AlleyMc profile image
AlleyMc in reply to dmt1121

Update - My son is severely depressed. He masks his symptoms. The Intensive outpatient program is about to release him and I’m trying to find care. He’s in crisis-won’t admit to it- he was inpatient over the new year for a few days and it terrified him. I feel like that’s what is keeping him home. Does anyone know anything about residential treatment programs for depression. We are in PA. I’m scared and now worried about my own mental health.

Hello, I just saw your post. I know how hard it is to have a child with depression. It is so sad. Does he have a therapist close by that he can talk to? Can you ask for advise from the therapist on how to help him when he’s having a crisis? I finally convinced my daughter to go back to her therapist. She needs to find ways to cope when she gets a panic attack. I worry about my own mental health as well. Things are tough right now especially with covid. Some days I feel like I’m going to lose it. I just take some time for myself and cry if I need to. Stay strong. If you need to talk or vent, I’m here for you.

Awh thank you! We see a new therapist later and I’ll ask. That’s a good question. He’s coming to grips with severity of depression. Realizing he has to battle. This is so hard watching him suffer and knowing I can’t fix it. Thanks for being here for me.

Best of luck with the new therapist. Hope it all goes well.

Thank you so much. I’m sorry that you had to go through it too. It’s heartbreaking. I truly believe a lot of it is hormonal. It all started when she became a teen. Thank you again for your advice.

The hormonal aspect can magnify the emotional responses, so as I mentioned above, anti-anxiety may help. Also, if her therapist can help her do this, meditation for 5 minutes each day can also help. It's tough to get teenagers to stay with it long enough to learn its value but could be worth considering also.

in reply to dmt1121

I was talking about this with my friends recently and we all agreed that problems always feel worse than they should do just because you are due to come on your period and we are past the adolescent stage!

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to

It definitely makes things worse.

dmt1121 profile image
dmt1121 in reply to

For me, being tired and it being dark outside can make all seem terrible..... Lol.

She does do meditation. I think it was helping her for a while. Thank you.

There is a Facebook page that I joined few months ago that I found helpful to try and understand my daughters mental health problems....

“Parenting Mental Health”

Hope this helps x

Thank you. I will take a look at it.

I don’t have any children yet but when I was a teenager and I was depressed it was something I kept to myself. I don’t think my parents really knew because when I was kid mental illness wasn’t really a thing or maybe in my culture mental illness isn’t understood as much as it is In the US and other parts of the world. I would suggest maybe doing something she enjoys a hobby of hers or a movie and and spend time together or maybe make her favorite food something you both enjoy together or maybe a spa day I don’t. Know if that would work or help. Just listen to her and try to understand her. I hope this helps! Keep your head up

Thank you so much.

I started having issues with my daughter when the teen years started. Kids that age are having to learn how to manage all these new feelings caused by hormones. I just explained that to my daughter and let her know that I love her as well that we are on the same team. I was not trying to make her life miserable but that I'm not perfect either. It made a big difference. I continue to spend one on one time with each of my children and their father as well. Kids need constant reassurance that you love them. I don't mean buying them things but hugs, encouragement, find out what her love language is. (There is a book) pour into her life. Dont spoil her because you don't want to reward bad behavior. But sometimes teens need direction...does she have chores? Responsibility? A job? Driver's license? Hobbies or interests? Despite covid Kids needs healthy diet, sunshine and exercise everyday. Hope this helps. Keep trying...I will be praying for you.

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to

Thank you so much. Before COVID she was so busy. She was doing ok. Now with being stuck in the house, sometimes it’s hard. I do try to get her out but we can’t do much. My husband is high risk so we are confined to the house. I do try to plan outside walks with her friends. She did sports but now she can’t due to covid. She wants to work but can’t due to covid. It’s not easy. She’s doing much better today. A lot of ups and downs. Thank you for the advice. I will look into that book that you mentioned.

in reply to Staystrong2424

Totally husband is high risk as well but he teaches the kids chess. So board games are a great way to spend time with them. Kids need help learning how to handle life and that includes boredom. Give her suggestions on how to keep herself busy and how to cope on her own. Life will always happen and we can be there to help them learn how to deal with it. Its great that you are trying so hard to help and understand. Alot of parents just ignore them and can't wait for them to move out of the house. You just keep loving on your kid.

Staystrong2424 profile image
Staystrong2424 in reply to

Thank you. That means a lot.

in reply to Staystrong2424

It's hard enough for us mature adults to take when things we enjoy are cancelled and I find it stings worse when it's last minute as well but for teenagers when things they enjoy are taken away feels like the end of the world to them as what's trivial to adults isn't to teenagers!

It's not that she wants to be depressed, it's because she is depressed and doesn't see the best out of the situation and you helping her. When someone is depressed it's very hard for one to see all the positive. Continue to take it slow and have patience, hopefully she'll come around sooner than later. Goodluck!

Thank you!

I definitely can relate to your daughter(I am a teen in the same boat) and I can tell you she does not want to be depressed but 1. sometimes it feels beyond our control 2. sometimes explaining how we feel can be a lot of work and we just don't have the energy not because we are lazy but because our depression has weakened us mentally and is using up most our energy 3. there's a good chance your advice is playing thru her mind but she just does not see a way it will work or feels unable to do it or knows what she needs and that's not it sometimes we know best and your advice may not work just like when we try to help you at times and sometimes it just gets in the way. not always can we help but we can always try. does that make sense idk, also I did not mean to sound rude there I noticed some of it may come across as rude 4 it sounds like she needs to get out and be around other people who love her sometimes the same old thing day after day can be overwhelming and trying not because the people are boring or no fun to be around but because as humans and especially in today's world we are made for change and so doing the same thing all the time can be tough for some. 5 sorry but I need to say this not to be rude but to try and bring things into perspective Do you wanna be sad when you are sad or mad when you are mad at times, no probably not sometimes we don't wanna be something but no matter what we try we keep going back to that thing because its who we know best so it's the easiest also that is where some of the bitterness can come from at times is because we are bitter that we can not break free from the clutch of our depression. 6 last thing sometimes it's best not to rely on meds but people and things that can be trusted and yes that can be hard to find but at the end of the day that helps more than meds.

Thank you for all of your advice. I didn’t think you were rude at all. Everything you said definitely helped me see things more clearly. Thank you for reaching out. I hope you are doing ok. I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through the same thing.

I'm glad I could help. I am doing good right now thanks.

Tough one. So sorry to hear this. Give her some time. She knows you are there for her. And I always find it helpful when I just pray and leave it in God's hands when I know I cannot do anything anymore. I hope your daughter feels better. Yes, Covid times are hard. Does she have any hobby or anything she enjoys doing? Could you guys maybe cook or bake something fun together, without mentioning depression or anything - just have some quality time together?

Thank you for reaching out and sharing. I am sorry for your struggles with your daughter's depression. Depression is a combination of a chemical imbalance along with how a person perceives things. It is important that she finds the right medication and counseling. Have you talked to her counselor or the doctor who changed her medication? Do you notice if her depression gets worse during her menstrual? I found out that mine is affected by hormonal changes. They called it Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Also, finding coping techniques that will work for her is important. Here are two techniques that have worked for my depression and my daughter's. The 557 breathing technique is take 5 deep breaths in while thinking good thoughts about yourself like I matter, I am special, I am strong and then hold the breaths for the count of 7 focusing on those words about yourself, then let out the breath slowly for 5 seconds letting go of any anxious, self-defeating, unhealthy thought. I do this one to three times a sitting. The gratitude journal is writing down something good every morning and night something that went well in the day, or something I appreciate about myself. Taking our focus off of the anxiety and depression and focusing on positive uplifting things really helps. What you think is what you believe. So thinking uplifting things you believe those things but the reverse is true - thinking negative self-defeating things, you will believe those. I will be praying for you. Feel free to pm me if you'd like to chat. Hugs and God Bless

Thank you. I sent a message to you. I appreciate your help.

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