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Topic: Helping depressed son

15 posts, 0 answered
  1. Annie5
    Annie5 avatar
    5 posts
    2 January 2022

    As I have read so many posts on this topic I realise that I am facing the same dilemma as many other parents of depressed teenagers. Sadly I don't take any comfort in this as there is no quick fix or one solution to the problem.

    My 19yo son has depression- ongoing for about 2 years and is now worse than ever. He has previously tried counselling which was unsuccessful (at least 10 sessions) and has tried medication on several occasions but won't stick with it long enough to see if there is any improvement. He will not return to his doctor for follow-up or agree to persevere with medication and as an 'adult' I can't force him. He quit his job a few months ago, no longer has any contact with friends either in person or on social media, stopped driving his car and has his phone switched off. He spends most of his time in his room and all efforts to get him to engage in any activities with the rest of the family are unsuccessful. I have had many discussions with him in the last few months about ways to improve his mental health but I have stopped pleading with him to see doc or continue with meds and for the last 2 weeks have kept discussions light and have not mentioned anything about his mental health. I have sought phone and in-person counselling because my son won't talk to anyone but on every occasion, their focus has been on my mental health and I feel I am getting nowhere with support or strategies to help my son. It is emotionally draining to see someone you love like this every day and be unable to help. I have read everything I can on helping someone who refuses help and I'm now left wondering do I sit back and do nothing? He is not a talker and won't open up to anyone. Any suggestion of involving a friend or another family member to talk with him would be refused. I feel that I have exhausted all options to get through to him and worry that nothing is going to change. Feeling drained but still searching for answers.....

  2. mmMekitty
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    mmMekitty avatar
    3386 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hello Annie5, & welcome to the forum.

    Sadly, I don't have any answers for you. This is avery sad situation, & must be very painful to watch your son in this condition.

    I know you've tried to seek help from counsellors, & they seem to only offer limited help to you, but not anything to help him. Their dilemma is they cannot counsel by proxy. I know this does not help you to help him in the least.

    Please continue to talk here, as I am sure there are others here who can relate more to your situation thanI can.

    Warm regards,


  3. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3584 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hi Annie5.

    I wanted to welcome you to the BB forums and I'm sorry you've had no responses yet about your son. By welcoming you I hope this will bump up your post.

    That sounds worrying about your son. Is there anyone else that you know who he might listen to? It does sound like he needs help and it's worrying that he won't continue his medication.

    I wonder if there is a help line you could ring for advice?

    I hope others will come by here soon who might have some ideas to help you.

    Can you tell us anything else that may be helpful?

  4. Annie5
    Annie5 avatar
    5 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Hanna3

    Thankyou Hannah3 and mmMekitty for your responses. I appreciate your words of support even though you can't help. I'm exhausted from trying to get my son to engage in anything particularly as his older siblings and my spouse have nothing to offer in support so it's all up to me. I've left him alone for the last 2 weeks hoping that he might realise that depression won't dissapear untreated, and hoping that he might initiate a conversation about where do we go from here but that hasn't happened and is unlikely to. I see him at dinner time and occasionally for short periods in the evenings but he generally retreats to his room for the rest of the time. His sleep pattern is all over the place and I'm reluctant to disturb him during the day because I think he's awake most of the night and has to catch up on sleep sometime. I'm not pushing him to look for work because I don't think he'd cope in his current state of mind but am I making things worse by letting him do nothing? He should be out enjoying life and doing all the things his peers are but instead he is closed off from everyone. Taking each day as it comes but they are very long days!

  5. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3584 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hi Annie5,

    I don't know where you are and I don't have the numbers, but I think there are Depression helplines you can ring. Perhaps if you phoned Beyond Blue or Lifeline they could help you?

    It must be very worrying for you. Did anything in particular set this off do you know?

  6. Annie5
    Annie5 avatar
    5 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Hanna3
    Thankyou - I have called a number of helplines which offer suggestions, all of which I am doing or have previously tried so they are not as helpful as I had hoped. No event or life change brought on his depression. There is no real explanation but I think he masked it well for a long time and left untreated it has progressively got worse. I was pinning my hopes on him taking medication as he will not talk to anyone himself, but that only lasted about 3 weeks and I have been unable to convince him to try again.
  7. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3584 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hi Annie5

    I'm not sure what you can do except try to enlist some support if you can and have a really firm discussion with your son about just how alarmed and concerned you are and that you need him to get help.

    Maybe others here will be able to suggest something.

    I really hope your son gets the help he needs.

    I understand how anxious you must be.

    See if others have any ideas for you. I hope things turn out OK.

  8. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hello annie,

    I was a depressed teenager resistant to help.

    I think the reason why the helplines advise u to focus on ur mh is because if u feel wholly responsible for u son, and act as if he is harming Ur or ruining Ur life, it will make him feel worse.

    He needs to know that u have Ur own boundaries and ways of caring for urself, which can role model the same to him.

    I think accepting and being open with him that u are not sure urself how to help, but that u love him and believe he will get well, and see past his depression, into his essence and his good qualities, is a helpful approach.

    U can't make him get help. But u can listen and have curiosity about how he is..,,and if he has someone to listen he may eventually,through having a safe space to explore his feelings, come to seek help himself,

    The power of a no judgemental person to listen cannot be understated.

    If Ur interested, I'd be happy to recommend some memoirs about depressed young ppl and how they found a way may help to see that it is often indirect support and love which was the very thing that helped the person back on their feet.

    2 people found this helpful
  9. Annie5
    Annie5 avatar
    5 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643
    Thankyou Sleepy21. Perhaps looking at this from a depressed young person's point of view may help me to navigate a way forward for my son. Any recommendations you have would be welcomed.
  10. Hanna3
    Hanna3 avatar
    3584 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Guest_1643

    Hi Sleepy,

    That sounds like excellent advice thank you for that! A very good approach. I'll remember that for the future. 🙂

  11. Guest_1643
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Guest_1643 avatar
    4854 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hi Annie,

    I relate a it to Ur son as I struggled in that way at that age.

    I felt a lot of pressure to "fix" myself, and figure out my life at judt 18. I thought I had to know exactly which career and life I wanted..,..and it was too much for me. I relate to feeling empty and directionless.

    I've read a few memoirs on ppl who in different ways, struggled in their youth with mental illness.

    A few that come to mind are Rosie Waterland Not That Kind of Girl, Roxane Gay Hunger , Kate Holden In My Skin....

    I think it's worthwhile to note that whatever pain u experience observing his struggle, the pain and fear he feels is tenfold. He is vulnerable and hurting.

    I think short term fixes of trying to shake him out of his depression would not work anyway. The goal should be to gi e him space and, some trust, he is not his depression, and this may well be a temporary phase I his life. Catostrophising will only make it worse. A lot of ppl go through a period of blackness and pain in their lives and come through. For whatever reason, he may need to express his pain now, but it will not be forever.

  12. Petal22
    Community Champion
    • Outstanding members who have volunteered their time to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Petal22 avatar
    2000 posts
    2 January 2022 in reply to Annie5

    Hi Annie5,

    Wellcome to our forums!

    Im so sorry that yourself and your son are going through this I understand it would be so hard to watch someone you love go through this.

    My only advice is to keep supporting him as I know you do………. Keep telling him you love him and your always there for him unconditionally.

    Maybe just do little things together like going for a walk or sitting outside together talking reminding him that he’s important and loved………

    Always remain open to him so he knows when he’s ready to accept help your there to help him anytime……

    You can only encourage him to seek professional help or even give him the beyondblue phone number for him to call when he feels he’s ready to speak to a trained councillor….

    1300 22 4636

    Hopefully in the near future he will awaken from what he’s currently going through and find a way forward on his journey of life…..


  13. Red73
    Red73 avatar
    1 posts
    3 January 2022
    Hi Annie5. I'm new her too. I am in a very similar situation to you. My 23 year old son is severely depressed. Like your son he does not talk to any friends or anyone. He wont even talk to me. He has an apprenticeship he was doing but quit due to his depression. He now has a casual night job but is extremely unhappy in it. like your son he is awake all night and sleeps all day. Rarely comes out of his room. I do not want to wake him through the day due to lack of sleep. he doesn't have a great relationship with his dad and his older siblings probably just don't understand. its so hard when they wont talk. he came good a few days ago, went to the movies with his little brother...cleaned his room and now he is not so great. I am actually sitting in my lounge room (1am) now waiting for him to come home as he just left. I'm worried. he will never tell me where he is going. sending you a hug as i know how scary this is and how it feels.
  14. Ramblify
    Ramblify avatar
    21 posts
    3 January 2022 in reply to Annie5
    Hi Annie, have you thought about approaching it by saying to your son that he is now 19 and an adult, and there are responsiblities that come with being an adult - like working, studying contributing financially to household living expenses. AND also his own mental health! Explain you are no longer allowed to help him the way you would and could if he was under 18. Encourage him to seek help from a mental health hospital if he thinks he cant get out of his bedroom. Tell him you dont have the financial resources , or professional training (Phycologist/phsychatrist), to support him for the rest of his life - his mental health is not likely to change until he takes some responsibility for it. If the treatment/s he has received haven't helped - keep trying, he may be depressed but there could be a lot more going on inside that he wont face and until he's willing to he will stay friendless, jobless and helpless.
  15. Annie5
    Annie5 avatar
    5 posts
    3 January 2022 in reply to Red73
    Thankyou.....and I'm sorry you're in the same boat! I think we have an epidemic of unhappy young people and that is only based on the reported numbers. So many more left untreated and doing it tough. Like you, I'm the one awake at all hours, waiting for kids to come home while everyone else has a good night's sleep! Hugs to you too and keep waiting for brighter days ahead. 🙂

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