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parenting teenagers with depression, anxiety

Community Member

My 16 year old daughter has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, she is on anti-depressants and is seeing a good psychologist. I was wanting to hear from other parents in similar situations, especially with regard to how their illness affects the way you discipline and enforce boundaries. Because of her social anxiety, I have stopped grounding as a punishment (so she can maximise every opportunity to socialise). I will on occasion remove her phone for short periods. Also I am very very conscious of being too harsh with discipline as she already feels the world is against her, struggles with self-esteem and self-image. She has also self-harmed on a couple of occasions when she isn't coping.

I am so worried that by "going easy" on her I am letting her down in terms of real life preparation. For example, school grades have plummetted and I have been advised not to focus on school work or study too much, particularly when she is feeling low.

Psych has also recommended we see a pyschiatrist, even though she also says DD is 'doing well' and trying very hard in terms of putting strategies in place. (Though I don't see much of this at home!)

I would love to hear from any other parents.

3 Replies 3

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Coco821~

Welcome to the Forum where you will see many have had to deal with this very worrying problem.

I guess in some ways you are like the captain of a ship who can see what is needed to get to the destination, but has to deal with a suddenly sprung a leak. Priorities change drastically.

I can quite understand the need to prepare your daughter for later life, it is something every thinking and caring parent tries for.

I would imagine that lack of self-esteem, self-harm and your daughter's other problems are made worse by pressure, and this is why your medical advice is to soft-pedal studies or the school environment. The immediate need here may well outweigh future scholastic requirements.

If the psychologist has recommended a psychiatrist I'd encourage your daughter to go. The fact you do not see much evidence of proper coping strategies at home is not surprising. They are not easy to accomplish and harmful ones have to be discarded, something even harder.

I can only indicate the approach I'd try to take, which is no quick fix. I'd try to get my daughter to see me as someone she could talk to without argument, someone receptive and if necessary non-judgmental. Comfortable.

At the same time try to be a companion, entering in to her activities and doing things together - things she has enjoyed in the past or wants to do. Easy companionship and hopefully in time a measure of willing cooperation. Anything that builds up her self-image such as asking for and maybe deferring where possible to her views may assist.

When all else fails just let her know you will always be there and leave it at that.

Yes from your point of view it is 'going easy' on her and you could see it as bad for the long term, however if your daughter is in such a fragile state she self-harms then that may be the only realistic option at the moment.

If you could get her to talk to someone when she feels the need to self-harm that would be great. The trick I suppose is her having enough confidence in her reception to feel able to do so. There are a fair number of other techniques to minimize this behavior, hopefully something she can talk about with her medical team.

The fact she has a loving concerned and thoughtful parent and the resources of a doctor and psychologist is a really great basis for improvement, and most anxiety related problems do respond well to the correct treatment in time.

I do hope you will return and talk more


Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Dear Coco

Hello and welcome. This is indeed a tricky problem as you are discovering. Getting teenagers to do the things you expect such as keeping their room tidy is a battle fought in just about every home with teenagers. And how do you indicate it's OK to have a messy room to one child and not another? If I may make a suggestion following on from Croix great answer, these are the sorts of tasks you can do with your daughter. I know it's time consuming but it really is worthwhile taking the time now to establish a solid foundation with your daughter without it being seen as favouritism or when she is well again having to start reminding her of these tasks.

Of course room tidying may not a problem but it's just an example. I believe it will send a message that you love and care for her and want to help her as much as possible. And in this type of situation she may well open up to you about how she is going. It's the same going for drive, ideal place to chat if there are only the two of you. I have to say I was always a tidy person, but this was my choice. In other areas I was not so good, so chalk and cheese.

It's really all about opportunities and taking them in a non-nagging manner. Yes, I've done my share and afterwards ask myself why i was such a nagger. It's the price of being human I expect and maybe this is a message to give to your daughter.

So many people are ashamed of their depression and many of them also self harm. I imagine it's a frightening experience for you. May I suggest you read up about depression as much as possible. BB has great resources. Start at the top of the screen and hover the mouse over The Facts and start exploring from there. Apart from general information there is also information for friends and family which you may find helpful. You can download the fact sheets but must request the booklets. The site will tell what to do. There is no charge for any of these materials.

Without being insensitive I had to smile at your comment, (Though I don't see much of this at home!) That is so common with children. My doctor used to praise my girls when I went my ante-natal checks for baby three. "Oh they are so good, little ladies". Little did he know how different it was at home. By the way is this your only child?

I would take up the psychiatrist option. Psychologists and psychiatrists work in different ways. Sometimes one is more appropriate but both can work with each other for your daughter's benefit. I see a psychiatrist.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Oh gosh - I feel for you. I started to question all the parenting decisions I have ever made!! My 17 year old son has suffered from anxiety and depression since he was in his early teen years. I have just started a wordpress blog where I talk openly about the difficulties of parenting kids with mental health conditions. My son now sees a psychiatrist twice a week - and he has been a fantastic resource not just for my son - but also knowing that someone else is also monitoring his moods and behaviours gave us some comfort.

Take Care