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How to help a 17 year old in deep depression state

(27 Posts)
Sophionaliv Fri 02-Mar-18 13:46:12

My 17 year old daughter has suffered with depression and anxiety for a few years now and has been under the care of CAHMS and had counsellors over the years. She has social anxiety and finds it hard to make and keep friends. She has also gained a lot of weight due to totally comfort eating which is not helping her self esteem which is pretty much non existent anyway. She does have a boyfriend but even things there are a bit touch and go at the moment due to her very needy ways. She has no other real friends and relies way to much on her boyfriend which I can see is tiring him out as he obviously needs his own life outside of her, without her constantly messaging him. She relies on him to be with her at college\sixthform and has arguments when he wants to spend time with his friends, or she will just go off and sit in a park alone. Last night he nearly broke up with her and her reaction was horrifying. I have seen it before when her last boyfriend broke up her just over 18 months ago and she was on the verge or killing herself, I had the school call me to tell me that she was sat with a bottle of bleach ready to drink. It scares the life out of me and I know we need a big change in our family. I have 3 daughters aged 15-17-18 and their dad left nearly 2 years ago in a very nasty manner which has also effected all of them. I guess what I am asking is for some advice on how to change this daughters outlook in life for the positive. She hates herself, thinks she is ugly, thinks she fat, thinks she a failure, thinks she is unlikeable. The truth is, she is a beautiful (stunning in-fact) very caring and kind young lady. And yes I tell her this all of the time. Out of all 3 of my daughters she is the one who has the most compassion and empathy and has a way with her that family always seem drawn to her. She can be stubborn and I have a hard time getting her to understand how she is pushing people away and not letting them in, hence the lack of friends. She seems zero'd in to making this little bubble with her boyfriend that no one else is allowed to penetrate. I really want to find ways to build her confidence and change her outlook to a more positive one. She needs to know that her life is worth living, that there are things to look forward too, that she has so much she can give the world. I do try to tell her this but I need tools now that will show her this to be true and I honestly don't know where to begin, although I am about to embark on the power of attraction with her, starting with a list of gratitude and all things that make her happy. I have also been looking into fitness classes in the evening that all 3 of my daughters and I can attend, but the cost is an issue. Any other advice would be so gratefully appreciated as I live away from my family, 200 mile, and since their father left I have zero support and not a single person I can turn to near to me. I often blame myself for how she is as I too have depression and in the last couple of years have become quite isolated myself. Monkeys see monkeys do and all that. Thank you if you managed to get to through all of this. x

yawning801 Fri 02-Mar-18 13:55:15

No real advice I'm afraid, but here's a hand hold and a bump.

Sophionaliv Fri 02-Mar-18 14:02:35

Thank you smile

Scragyanny Fri 02-Mar-18 14:05:02

Hi Sophi
I am also having similar issues with DS12, although not quite so severe. I started the thread ‘my son thinks he wants to die’. It is so hard watching your child suffer. I have no answers, but having spoken to a number of people, my current plan of action is to get DS into the routine of extra curricular stuff. Money is an issue for me, but swapping music lessons he wasn’t keen on, to cheaper swimming lessons frees up a bit for other stuff. Like you, I am a bit isolated myself, so am having to make the effort to put myself out there and setting an example. DS is resistant to trying new things where he knows no-one, so am planning on squash & badminton at the local leisure centre. About £7 a time which means I can book as I have the money, and although neither of us are sporty, should be able to make it a laugh while still getting out there and getting some excercise too. Hopefully if we can do this regularly enough, I might be able to convince DS to join a league a little further down the line. Am hoping that doing these things will be a gentle enough shove for DS to see there is some fun out there if he will just try stuff. Also teaching him to be a bit more self reliant. Good luck. The gym sounds a good idea if you can all go together, but it is so expensive- perhaps have a go at random excercise classes which you can pay on the day. You get more variety then as could do a different session each time. Xx

Sophionaliv Fri 02-Mar-18 15:12:55

Thank you for your reply.. I feel for you and have total empathy being in much the same situation. I know I have to push myself to prove to her that it is possible and there is more out there. I wish you all the best with your son and hope the future improves for you both x

Trying2bgd Fri 02-Mar-18 15:45:48

I think time together as a family is an important step and your idea of a fitness class is a good one. How about also having a night of silly games or do craft over some homemade pizza? Brief your other two daughters in advance so they can help persuade her to join in. Try and make it a regular thing, getting them to help pick or make the food and suggest games or activities you can do.

Practising gratitude is never a bad thing and I hope that cahms will continue to offer her counselling or a support group.

Sophionaliv Fri 02-Mar-18 16:39:48

Thank you. I try to do family stuff at least once a week and often more. She does go along with it but always seems sad and as if she is there just to keep the peace and not because she wants to be. We play board games and do arts and crafts, tonight, cinema then weatherspoons for a cheap tea. She is coming but wont bother to do make up etc and said its in the dark anyway! I guess I just have to keep trying, its all I can do for now. Thank you for your response it is very much appreciated x

ihatethecold Fri 02-Mar-18 16:46:48

Has she been offered any medication for her depression?

FeedtheTree Fri 02-Mar-18 16:52:09


Not so severe but DS2 has low mood and low self esteem. I've spent a lot of time chatting with him about how to be his own best friend.

It's a proper strategy, used in CBT and self-care programmes etc. She has to live with herself. She has no choice in that. So the best decision she can ever make in her entire life, about anything, ever, is to be kind and supportive to herself. To be her own closest friend.

She doesn't have to want to, or to believe it, but if she starts with small acts of self care - having a shower, going for a walk, watching a funny sitcom, listening to uplifting music etc and after each one she gives herself a pat on the back, and acknowledges that she's making progress, then gradually it helps shift the mindset towards a more positive one.

She needs to learn that she must rely on herself to meet her own emotional needs. That you and her boyfriend can support them, but you can't provide them.

You could also try and help her widen her focus. There's a brilliant chapter in the classic self help book 'Feel the Fear' where she says to draw a square and divide it into 9 smaller squares, then write one aspect of life in each square e.g. health; family; romance; study etc, until you have nine areas of interest. The rule is that one must be 'community'and another 'self-development' or self care. The others are whatever you want.

Then you make it a game to try and make all nine areas of equal importance in your life by focusing on them for a chunk of each day. That way, if one aspect of your life goes pear shaped (boyfriend chucks you or you drop out of college) the others help you through the tough time and remind you that some things in life are working out OK.

She does need to realise that manipulating her boyfriend is really not acceptable and will cause them both problems. He can't handle that level of pressure if he's young himself. (I know this from experience. I had a relationship in which I was treated as primary emotional support for a severely depressed friend - even by the MH teams, until I was on the brink of a breakdown myself, as I was a teenager and way out of my depth.)

Hope this helps a bit. PM me if you want to chat more.

FuckitAndStartAgain Fri 02-Mar-18 17:00:08

Medication can be very very helpful. It does not change what people dislike about their lives, or themselves) but can enable people to find ways to crawl out of a black hole. Worth considering if you haven’t already. Is she having counselling at present? If not chase up some talking therapies.

Can you find some way she can be kind and special and needed? A pet perhaps? Working with you at a local food bank? Anything? Being kind is one sure way that makes me feel better when I am low. Does she read? Good novels work almost as well as mindfulness stuff for me.

What does the school say? What are they doing to help? Can they involve her in helping a younger child? Extracurricular stuff such as art (if she is arty).

Sorry to bombard you with questions, please ignore any you want! I am just going through in my head things that have helped me, and helped my son when he was 12 and suicidal. My son saw a psychologist and was told he had Asperger’s. We were very matter of fact, he was good at Maths, crap at social stuff etc. We taught him to interact, literally telling him how to pretend to be empathetic to friends. Interestingly 15 years later we were talking about it and he had totally forgotten the label just the learning tools in a systematic way.

I hope one of those thoughts might help a little bit, both you and your daughter. It is so hard to see, and my husband left when the going got tough too.

Pob13 Fri 02-Mar-18 17:58:08

Hi, I have suffered from depression from the age of 14 and I had a particularly bad episode at 16/17, resulting in quite a lot of self-harm. I can honestly say that the only thing that snapped me out of it was seeing how upset my mum was when she saw my cuts. I was in so deep that I was not considering the effect I was having on others. My mum once said to me "I blame myself", and that was heartbreaking. Do you talk to her about your feelings about it? Im certainly not suggesting you try and send her on a guilt trip, but it might be good to open her eyes a bit. She needs to see that you cant do everything for her and you cant make her better.
Isnt there a saying that's something like - you cant help someone who wont help themselves.
Regarding medication; I would definitely explore it. It isnt a quick fix but can provide a stable base to work from. Im 32 now and have finally found one that works for me.
Again, counselling could help her explore her feelings. I have tried them all and despite being very sceptical I found hypnotherapy to be the most useful.
She will be ok, especially as she obviously has an amazing and supportive mum.

Trying2bgd Fri 02-Mar-18 20:00:43


for you flowers

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 11:59:58

Hi, yes she was slowly introduced to fluoxetine up to 20mg, took for about 6 months and said it wasn't helping. Her CAHMS nurse agreed and then weaned her off them. x

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 12:05:05

Thank you so much, I will look for that book on ebay and try to get her to read it. I think I may have read it myself years ago as the title sounds very familiar and I have read many self help books over the years. I like the sound of the square chart. Thank you again x

MyBrilliantDisguise Sat 03-Mar-18 12:07:43

I think if a young girl is overweight it's a lot to ask her to go to a gym. I agree with you that exercise would help her, but what about you all counting steps (most phones will do that without the need for a FitBit) and competing (in a lighthearted way, not obsessive!) against each other? Or could you walk together for a set distance and try to improve your speed week on week?

My daughter suffered from depression and yoga really helped her. There are tons of YouTube videos which are fantastic for beginners.

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 12:23:39

@FuckitAndStartAgain Thank you I have messaged you as it is a long reply and didn't want to bore everyone on here. x

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 12:42:12

Thank you, yes I was looking into some more subtle and mindful classes such as yoga and Tia Chi, she isn't massively over weight and is an A level dance student so does have a fairly high fitness level. Thank you for your reply and I am glad that yoga has helped your daughter. A good idea looking on youtube for some beginning steps. Thank youx

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 13:49:23

@Trying2bgd Thank you very much <3

chocatoo Sat 03-Mar-18 14:03:50

I think the idea of yoga and maybe meditation is good. Is it something you can do together to strengthen your bond? Also explore mindfulness - my DD says she has an app on her phone! Could you both go to a retreat to kick it off? Even if it’s no good, the shared experience might make her more open to trying new things and maybe have a laugh with you.
I think apart from that just make sure she has a sanctuary at home and keep communicating. Hopefully she will feel a bit better as spring comes - this can be a horrible time for depression when it is so grey and cold outside.

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 14:20:03

Thank you, Yoga I am definitely looking into. I booked us all in for a mindfulness group, we done 3 very basic meditations during the hours sessions. She claims that meditating made her feel anxious and worried, and caused her physical pain. I explained the pain may be trauma that needs releasing but she has decided that she doesn't like it, so wont do it! Did I mention she can be stubborn smile As for the 2 of us, we are very close, maybe to close as she needs more friends and not to rely on her mother all the time, most things that she actually does do either include me or her BF. Even so, I am going to try and take her to new places and integrate with fellow humans more. Thanks again x

FeedtheTree Sat 03-Mar-18 14:39:02

I'd trust her on her reaction to meditation. It doesn't work for everyone, and there's research into how it actually makes some depressives feel worse. Seems hard to believe for those of us who thrive on it, but give it a miss for now.

Helping others might work (the community contribution part of the square chart) particularly as you said she's good with others and liked by family. Sounds like she gets positive feedback from interaction.

Sophionaliv Sat 03-Mar-18 16:48:07

@FeedtheTree Thank you. I have sent you a message in reply to your original comment as I felt it was a bit long winded to go on the thread and might bore people. Thank you for all of your advice x

GeorgeTheHippo Sat 03-Mar-18 16:59:23

That information about areas of your life is really useful. Thank you. DS1 is on antidepressants and I wonder whether his psychiatrist will suggest coming off them over the summer, at the end of his first year at uni (which he loves). He is very academically able with perfectionist tendencies and I think has a newish relationship with a girl (or maybe not..) which will throw him if it ends.

(ps I recognise a name on here. I used to be a small furry animal not a hippo)

Nettleskeins Sat 03-Mar-18 18:49:07

Sophionaliv have you checked her Vitamin D levels B12 and folates? They can make a big difference to mental health at this age (and our age) Vitamin D deficiency is commonplace in teens who don't get outside in the summer due to lack of sport/socialising, and you cannot get enough through a normally healthy diet without sunshine April - Sept 11-3pm. GP would do a blood test. I know teenage girls who also suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, undiagnosed for a while, which can affect their mood too. Sometimes these basic deficiences/hormonal issues can be overlooked? Asperger's undiagnosed can also be another aspect of mental health difficulties, as you do not realise just why you find things hard - things like socialising are an obvious example.

FuckitAndStartAgain Sun 11-Mar-18 12:05:30

How are things now?

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