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My Son Is Showing Strange Symptoms

My 13 year old son has been before diagnosed with GAD, but recently he has been very depressed for most of the time, and only ever showing signs of happiness when he has food or toys. He spends most of his time alone, but his grades are fine. He never really wants to leave the house, and he never wants to socialize with his friends anymore. 2 years ago he switched to a private school for middle school, and we thought smaller classes would be better for him participating, but he is now detached from all his friends. Also, he gets very angry for no reason at me or my husband or people that have not directly done anything to harm him. He can get angry from the slightest thing. He seems to have trouble sleeping, and he says it is from thinking of something really said or worrying, and he cannot stop thinking about it. Girls do not hang out with him, but with many of the richer more popular boys, they like. He used to love doing a lot of things that he does not find enjoyment in anymore, and he doesn’t play sports. Many of the other kids make fun of him for being a nerd. He is mainly alone at school, and he stays away from the only people that he is friendly with because they can be fun when he is happy, but if he is sad, or angry, they drive him crazy. What can I do to help him?

A. Your son was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and he might also have depression. Depression and anxiety commonly co-occur. He needs help.

The best way to help your son is to facilitate his consulting a mental health professional. It might be best to choose a professional who specializes in working with teens, preferably teenage boys. Counseling could help him understand what’s wrong and work through whatever is bothering him. Family therapy might also be helpful. Upon your initial consultation, you can discuss whether individual or family therapy (or both) would be the most appropriate treatment.

What you want to avoid, is minimizing his symptoms. Don’t regard them as a “phase.” Recognize that intervention is necessary and do whatever is needed to find him good help.

A recently published book underscores the importance of not minimizing the symptoms of mental illness among teen boys. Sue Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, one of the Columbine High School shooters. In her book, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, she writes with sincere regret about how she overlooked and minimized the psychological problems of her son. Her son’s problems seemed so normal at the time but we now know that his problems were anything but normal. Dylan was profoundly suicidal and his mother had no idea just how much he was suffering. Most teenagers never act out violently or become school shooters but even so, there is great value in her book. It can help parents recognize teenage depression and its many forms before it’s too late. All proceeds from the book will be donated to mental health charities.

You will be doing your son a great service by facilitating his involvement with mental health professionals. It could mean the difference between him having lifelong psychological problems and his prospering in life. Study after study consistently shows that mental health concerns are as important as those of physical health. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

from Ask the Therapist


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