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Where is the line between normal teen negativity/grumpiness and teen depression? How do you know which one it is?

(13 Posts)
Smilyn Sat 12-Apr-14 10:40:48

Asking as dd has always been naturally negative, grumpy, morose, socially awkward, perfectionist etc - a glass half empty sort of person. Maybe with a few ASD traits though no official diagnosis of anything. But for all that, although she's someone who finds life 'harder' than her sociable chilled younger siblings, until recently I'd say she was basically happy - working hard and doing very well at school, never in trouble, with a close group of friends she's had for years, settled well into secondary.

Until last year. We had a stressful year, some things happened that affected her worse than the rest of us (just because of what she's like), plus school work got harder and she stopped doing well at school and started getting in trouble for not concentrating/doing homework/mucking about. Her marks began to plummet and her report was pretty dire. She's started saying she doesn't like her old friends and she's changed and they no longer interest her. She prefers to spend all the time in her room, watching dvds or ideally on the laptop (except we limit her computer time which she hates - apparently she is the only teen with any limitations on computer use hmm ). She claims not to want to go out - she's been negative about holidays in the past because of phobia about flying, but used to enjoy it once there and enjoy days out - now she moans if made to leave the house for any reason except school. She's also panicked about body hair and seems to me body dysmorphic about this (eg wants me to allow her to have laser treatment all over, when in fact she is blonde and the very fine downy hair on eg arms etc is entirely invisible to anyone except her - she's convinced it's obvious and embarrassing and I'm cruel not to allow her - she started shaving her arms as well as her legs against my wishes recently. sad )

Her current school friends are lovely, hard-working - exactly as she used to be, so it's not a peer group problem. I wonder if it could be depression as seems to be more than just normal teen mopiness, but don't want to 'label' her if it isn't. Again, concerned that she always used to be 'going' somewhere - new ambitions every week about what amazing jobs she was going to have etc. Now she just says she needs to work at school to get some kind of job but doesn't expect to find a job she likes, expects to hate studying etc.

How can I help her if - as I strongly suspect - she is unaware she needs help and reluctant to deal with it? And even if she agrees, where is the best place to get help? I have suffered from depression myself when younger (not at her age, 14, though) and did eventually seek help myself and resolved it. But I'd rather she doesn't get as low as I did and also - crucially - not muck up her schooling and lose all her old friends whilst she's at it. She's very bright and could potentially scrape through with some halfway decent results with little work, but it would be a shame.

Another factor - her aggression, rudeness, surliness, laziness etc is starting to really poison the atmosphere at home and being picked up by younger siblings, so I really feel the need to resolve this for them as much as her.

Please help...

Polonius Sat 12-Apr-14 14:54:28

Just take her to the doctor to talk about it. My dd had a similar time, and hearing the words 'I do not think you are depressed' was really useful for her. It is not a waste of doctors time.

Claybury Sat 12-Apr-14 15:59:38

I took DS15 to a family psychiatrist - after 2 sessions we were told he wasn't 'ill' or 'depressed ' - I felt I owed it to him to have him checked and I am glad I did. Now he's 16 he appears a lot more communicative at home and emerging from the adolescent fog. I can't say whether the sessions helped, perhaps the doctor planted some useful seeds in his mind , maybe he's just matured. He was willing to go, which was surprising.

I would say it can be very hard to know the difference between teenage behaviour and depression - I was certainly unsure. He was happy outside the house , with lots of friends and success at school, but pretty awful at home.

Smilyn Sat 12-Apr-14 18:01:11

Thanks. I suppose I worry because dd doesn't appear that happy outside the house - indeed, wouldn't leave it, given the choice. But that said, she seems to enjoy spending time with her friends at school, if not enjoying any of the work.

I don't have a family psychiatrist - how does one go about finding somewhere for counselling/diagnosis? I could try GP but from what one hears, if it's counselling, one could be looking at a very long wait...

Claybury Sat 12-Apr-14 18:47:43

I saw a private psychiatrist - it would have got expensive had we needed on going treatment but the assessment we had was partially covered by medical insurance.

bunchoffives Sat 12-Apr-14 21:31:46

Could you start by talking to her/ Does she think she is unhappy or bored? Ask her if she enjoys anything? Try a weekend away with just her and of her choice?

Look up symptoms of depression and compare them and ask her about them (without mentioning they are symptoms of anything).

If you still suspect she is depressed you could start dropping in to the conversation how a 'friend's daughter' felt miserable and went to a GP/counselling and how much happier she is now ... and see if it gets any reaction in the next few weeks. It would be so much better if the idea to go for help came from her.

Otherwise your starting point could be to visit the GP yourself. Or you arrange to meet a counsellor who is experienced with kids informally in a café with your dd and see what the counsellor thought.

Good on you for noticing/being bothered.

wellies Sat 12-Apr-14 21:41:42

I recently took my dd (13) to the doctor after various bouts of moods/agression/irritability which worried me beyond what I imagine is 'normal' teenage moodiness. We were referred to the local mental health team who have decided she isn't depressed but would benefit from some counselling to help her with self esteem etc. Everyone along the way has been very understanding - no harm in getting things checked out and at least it shows you're on her side and trying to help lift her spirits.

Smilyn Sun 13-Apr-14 12:53:16

I'll try. Like the idea of asking her about symptoms of depression without mentioning that's what they are... Counsellor chatting informally in a cafe wouldn't work, as dd would be polite (as a stranger - she saves real rudeness for her family!) but freeze up as shy. So the counsellor would be none the wiser... I might see about about private counselling - a friend's dd did actually have this locally (about anxiety not depression though) and think it did help her - that, and just growing up (she was an early developer so I think has come out of the adolescent fog earlier).

anthropology Mon 14-Apr-14 07:16:32

If you suspect she may have ASD traits, does that mean you have had previous camhs involvement ? I wonder that you might get an ed pscyh assessment done(wisc 4) - we did one via a dyslexia centre or with a educational psychologist , if you are unable to get on a Camhs waiting list. If she is saying she won't enjoy study in the future, is that an indication, do you think, that she is finding it a bit harder now ? Does she struggle with exams at all ?

My DD is undiagnosed as ASD but does have traits, and she did suffer a severe depression at this age(which we or school didnt spot), partly linked we later understood to how the pressure of, school work changed at this age, for someone with ASD traits ,and she found the changeable emotions in friends difficult to understand and cope with. My DD does need more alone/quiet time than others, as now we understand social interaction is quite hard work, even if people dont notice it is. What was helpful about the educational assessment however, was that it revealed strengths as well as vulnerabilities and she began to understand that the way she saw the world, was a bit different to her friends, but no less valid. As someone who missed the signs, I think you are right to pursue assessment at support at this stage.

lucydaniels4658 Sat 19-Apr-14 21:52:02

My DD is exactly the same in many ways but she is ridcolously sociable to the point I have to force her to come home (which is a bit depressing!!) . She is very negative all the time about everythin from dinner to school to her friends !everythings not fair and i of course ruin everything! She also has asd traits and a processing disorder we are awaiting A CAHMS appointment as her behaviour at school is very negative also (thinks all the teachers hates her ) as well as all the issues you described ! We need a happy medium between the two as my DD has so many friendship dramas whilst out and tends to get picked on quite a bit which just adds to the negative spiral! It makes you become negative doesnt it !i'd love for her to tell me of something happy for once i sigh whenever she calls messages or talks as i can guarnatee it will be a very depressing conversation!

anthropology Sun 20-Apr-14 09:03:17

Lucy,it sounds from your other posts things are very difficult at school. You are right that its important to build her resilience to the bullying behaviour, or move her if necessary,, if the school don't take action, but she may also find the the change hard. If teachers are telling her off, rather than help with strategies of concentration, it will be very hard for things to get better especially if she is literal and believes the teachers think she is bad, rather than her actions.(they do need to understand more about how she perceives their comments in terms of ASD) An ed psych report will show teachers in black and white her processing difficulties as well as her strengths to focus on, and the school may need guidance on motivating her, if there isnt any strong teaching support. My DD has lots of friends, and when younger did pursue intense friendships - her socialisation masked her ASD traits and confused many professionals. best of luck.......

lucydaniels4658 Sun 20-Apr-14 16:17:42

Thankyou ! audio processing disorder has asd traits in there also in terms of black and white prospective! I feel like i cant move her as this is already her second secondary (left due to similar issues!) i just wish her school were more pastoral and caring ! The school want her tested for ADHD before buying into an ed phyc unfortunatley! Teenagers are so cruel I know its not all of them but only takes one or two to destroy a childs happiness and self esteem !

anthropology Sun 20-Apr-14 20:06:16

Sorry its so tough. My DD changed school several times. we got a wisc 4 assessment via a dyslexia charity through a bursary. I have paid for private assessments by psychiatrists sometimes in order to push Camhs along in the past(or for my own sanity when camhs diagnosed wrongly) - so maybe its worth some sort of private assessment giving you documentation for school , as they seem to be approaching it all badly , not supporting either of you. I hope the camhs appointment comes through as a letter from them should justify the ed psych. Make sure you document any incidents clearly, and follow up phone calls with school/camhs with emails.

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