Teenage DD depression and weight gain

(10 Posts)
anotherguiltymum Sun 02-Oct-16 08:56:36

DD has struggled with anxiety and depression in her first year at uni, and probably for the year before, although she hid it well. During this time, I think she binged/ate for comfort and has gained around 3 stone this year.

She is a high achiever and to all outsiders she seems totally fine. She is on anti-depressants and seems much better in herself, seems motivated to do work and extra-curricular activities. But her weight continues to go up.

She is very intelligent and her weight used to upset her when she first gained in term one but she seems to have disassociated herself from her body and also stopped caring about her appearance and wearing make-up/doing her hair.

She used to exercise loads at school, high standard sport and dance at least 12 hours a week- and all the problems seem to have stemmed from stopping to concentrate on getting her required a-level grades. We've suggested she exercise, her GP and counsellor told her to exercise to manage her anxiety/depression, I offered to pay for a gym- but she just won't. She has also stopped counselling and although I've got some CBT sessions okayed by our insurance, I'm not sure she'll arrange them.

I know I have to just leave her to it and support her where I can but if this continues her physical health is at risk as well as her mental health. I've not mentioned her weight, although in the past I've probably been too 'helpful' and proactive with remedies instead of reassuring and supportive.

Anyone been through this?

anotherguiltymum Sun 02-Oct-16 08:56:52

Sorry, that was long

FledglingFTB Sun 02-Oct-16 09:04:28

Honestly I would not talk about weight or fitness at this point. Focus on her wellbeing first and once that improves she will naturally strat to take more care.

Looking at your DDs past she has been active and healthy. So it's probably something that she naturally enjoys, however, pushing her to do these things "for her own good" or "to make her feel better" just will not work when she's feeling so low herself.

Do you know why or what initially triggered the depression? You don't really go into that, your post feels very focuses on the superficial tbh.

anotherguiltymum Sun 02-Oct-16 09:19:35

She is at a university with a huge amount of pressure. She put pressure on herself to get to that uni and I think the 'hot-house environment and feeling that she wasn't good enough contributed.

The counselling and CBT and exercise were all for managing her mental health, nothing at all to do with diet. When she first became unwell she was very proactive in managing her illness without antidepressants and walked in the sunlight/exercised/went to counselling. Since taking the medication she stopped all that. I understand that it must feel like a mountain to climb- but I suppose I hoped that if she used both medical and non-medical approaches she'd get better quicker.

I'm not going to say anything, i know it's my own hang-up. I'm only blurting to mumsnet because I can't to anyone else. I was hoping for a torrent of "my daughter was like this and then in her second year she gained confidence and felt better' comments, to calm me down.

FledglingFTB Sun 02-Oct-16 09:55:40

I'll admit that I've commented because I sympathise with your daughter. I struggled through uni.

I think that the educational system can feel like a massive put down. From year 8 onwards children enter into an endless testing environment, where they're told that their whole world and future revolves around, SATS, GCSEs, A-Levels and then degree. Whilst undertaking each one its pitched as the most important thing in world and then as soon as it's over they're thrown into the next round and each seem to have little or no bearing on each other. It's tough!

My greatest fear was letting my parents down, and nothing could quell that fear. They weren't pushy in the slightest, it was all in my own head! Some of the best things that helped me were:
- Travel, my parents generously paid for me to have a holiday in my second year summer hol. They just handed me the money and said get out of [uni town] for a week or two. I also snook in the odd weekend visits friends or a cheap flight. Great headspace.
- Work, I got a small job. This removed me from the uni hot pot for a few hours a week and allowed me to meet people who weren't studying. It also gave me my own income which felt great. And actually something else to stress about, it balanced out the uni pressure. There was more to life IYSWIM
- work experience, mostly in the hols. It showed me that endless course work and tests were not the be all and end all, it also cemented that this course would take me into the career I wanted. It was also bloody brilliant for my CV, and stood out more than any degree mark.
- home, it became a bit of a sanctuary. If things got too much I knew I could hop on a train and essentially hibernate for a weekend. There'd be food, comfort, no pestering. I could take work or just take time out.

Without fully understanding your DDs situation my experience may be completely irrelevant. But it is great that you're looking out for her, and I do feel for you both. flowers

lastqueenofscotland Mon 03-Oct-16 12:04:41

I'd step away from weight/exercise and focus on her mental health from that now. Once she feels better in herself I think the rest will level out a bit easier.

I was your daughter in my 2nd year of uni but went the other way and didn't eat as couldn't be bothered. Once my mental health improved I was more inclined to look after myself in other ways. IYKWIM

anotherguiltymum Sat 08-Oct-16 11:12:20

Thanks Last and Fledgling I am a medic and I'm afraid I struggle with a need to cure all problems.
I have realised that I have to stand back and let her deal with her depression herself and just be there if she calls. I've seen her and she seem so, so, so much happier, which was lovely to see

AyeAmarok Sat 08-Oct-16 11:17:17

I disagree with those saying focus on the mental health and ignore the weight/exercise issue. The latter is most likely a huge contributor to the former!

If she were to start exercising again, her MH would improve markedly I'm sure.

Weight would probably drop off too which is an added bonus.

leonardthelemming Sat 08-Oct-16 12:01:50

I don't know if this story will help at all, but for what it's worth...

I'm a retired teacher. I once taught a girl who was desperate to get into a particular (top) university. I was as much of a nervous wreck as she was on results day because if she didn't get an A in my subject I would have felt I'd failed her.
In the event she did get the grades she needed and off she went.
All was OK at first, but then she began to find the pressure too much. I don't know exactly how bad it was because I only heard later (first from her parents and subsequently from her). The solution, for her, was to transfer to a different uni. Still highly-regarded, but less pressure. Only half the distance from home. And she was back to her normal self.

I'm not advocating anything here - simply telling a true story that might have some relevance.

badg3r Sun 09-Oct-16 14:21:33

You sounds like a lively mum op. Difficult to know how to approach it without upsetting her. Several people I know, myself included, found the their weight changed a bit on leaving home anyway because of new routines and having to feed yourself. Although it is obvious the problem here is much more than that. Do you suspect she had an eating disorder? As you of course know, while exercise is very important the weight is only going to come off with a change in diet too. What is her financial situation like re food? Do you have an idea of what she is eating? Can she afford financially to make healthier choices? Could you treat her to a hello fresh subscription or something similar that gives her a chance to cook properly for herself, or a blender and delivery of fruit/veg for her to make smoothies, something to focus on looking after what she puts into her body? I also suffered from depression while studying and to be honest when I started to feel better I really didn't care how much I weighed, I was just so relieved to see the light at the end of tunnel emotionally. Once I had been happy in myself for a few months I felt ready to tackle the weight (a bit over a stone). How long is she on the ADs for? Is it possible the apathy towards her appearance is due to them?

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