Teenage daughter is showing signs of depression.

[deleted account] ( 27 moms have responded )

I could use some advice...My 13 year daughter who is normally a very happy and well rounded girl is started to show signs of depression. She does extreamly well in school and has not missed a day of school for over 4 years, even when I try to get her to stay home when she is not feeling well. I noticed an a "BIG" change in her beyond the normal teen moods.

Her father and I seperated when I found out have been divorced since she was 3 months old and three years ago he showed an interest in spending time with her. It was a major change in our lives since I had her everyday for over 10 1/2 years. It is really good for him to want to be in her life. We have a split parenting plan 50/50. And, there are two very different parents styles. I am in the field of Early Childhood Education and want to preserve the relationship with her father.

I encourage her to have friendships because these relationships are so important. She told me last night her dad restricts her friendships. She said she feels as if she can't do anything right in his eyes, and she feels herself feeling sad and stays in her room when she is with him. When she got an got an A- , instead of lots of praise, he told to try harder next time.

He is a very controlling person, hence, the divorce so, I know how she is feeling.
How can I support her ? We spent time talking last night for a long time as I held her in my arms just like I always do. It is sad to see my baby girl struggling with her self worth. I told her we may have to seek a professional to help her through this tough time but she is not open to it at this time. And is afraid her dad will be mad at me if I seek help for her. Ia m noty worriede about that. I am worried about the long term effects.

Can anyone offer any advice? I am considering modifying our parenting time because I am so worried about her getting deeper into depression.

Thanks,
Jill

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Michele - posted on 07/11/2010

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Protect her emotions and continue to affirm her accomplishments. A professional will be able to confirm that her time with him should be limited unless he is willing to participate in the counseling. He must be a part of the solution and it should be ALL about her if he wants visitations to remain the same. She is too precious to allow this to consume her.

She has her entire life ahead of her and I pray that she is restored to herself soon. I will also pray for you because I know this is difficult to watch and you may feel as though your hands are tied. Don't press to much and become a great listener. It will build trust and eventually, confidence in you to confide in you.

Last year I prayed that I wanted to be the type of parent whose children could tell me ANYTHING and that my response will be one on which they would know they could return again without fear, shame, anger or ridicule. That's all they are looking for. From one mom to another, peace and XOXO's to you and your daughter.

Leslie - posted on 07/08/2010

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If she doesn't have to spend time with her Dad let her stay home. Besides the face that he is a bully (my ex is the same with my daughter), he is also acting (unconsciously) as the model for all of her future male/female relationships. If he cannot treat her with dignity and respect she is better off staying with you.

Mo - posted on 07/07/2010

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Well, In June it marked a year for my daughters father and I split up! We had a realy rough year and after seeing my normaly all smilling girls fall into some dark times over our break up I relized it was time to seek professional help for each of us. I also went to court last month and now have set dates/times of when their father can see them with supervised visits. It is OK to seek profeshional help if your child needs it. Do what is in the best plan for their safety. Every Sunday the three of us now have a huge family dinner, no tv, no cell phones, etc. we spend the night as a family and talk about everything, we do board games and spend time together.
I wish you and your child some peace of mind and don't ever feel ashamed to ask for help, it will only make you a stronger parent if you do the right thing. saddly, I learned the hard way and it took me 13 years to relize he was no good and that we needed help. We are doing great now as a family of three.
GOD BLESS!

Sue - posted on 07/05/2010

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I totally understand your unhappiness, no one can stand back and watch their kids be unhappy. Maybe the dad is struggling as well, maybe its all to new and too much for him, maybe he doesn't know what to do really, maybe he's making up for lost time by trying to take control, and not doing it right. but also you don't want to take the chance with giving him the benefit of trying to do good when he is not. So I would incorrage your daughter to open up to her father, and try to make him understand that she is not happy, and come to some sort of arrangement, that suits everyone to have a happy, healthy relationship. This would also help her to speak up in the future with other relationships, because you can't speak for her when she's older. Teaching her how to deal with life situations is better than medication, or therapy ( I'm not saying that you shouldn't get help) but how to handle things is better than hiding it. So my advise is to talk and share feelings, then therapy if things are not changing ( for all ), medication should be your last resort. I have kids and I would die if anything or anyone was to hurt them.

I-Fan - posted on 06/12/2010

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Thirteen is a tough time for any girl! thriteen is also a scary age for parents. Maybe you should have a tslk with Dad and let him know what normal teen relationships are for this age. I found that giving it to Dad in the form of a printed article by an expert helps.
Have you had her thyroid levels checked? A long shot but worth doing.
Lastly, your daughter is in a difficult position between two parents with different styles. Maybe it would be helpful for her to talk to a professional as a neutral party for a while. Good luck, noone like to see their children unhappy especially at such a vulnerable age.

[deleted account]

Hi. thanks for sharing something so deep to our female hearts as self esteem. she sounds like a smart girl so it might be helpful to read the book by John Gray: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Gray would say that her father's words are actually a man's way of being complimentary. Her father trusts that she can do better. In other words he believes in her and her abilities. Men love to take risks and challenges. In chapter 11 there is a helpful format called a love letter where one can fill in the blanks and give it to the offender and try to reconcile. Your daughter will actually get most of her self esteem from her father whether we like that idea or not. So we have to teach the man that she is a precious priceless porcelain tea cup and not a disposable beer can. If you talk to men in word pictures and concrete language they will understand more easily. Ask him if he wants his daughter to be beautiful and feminine like princess Di or a person like Rosie O'Donnel. Well, please treat her like a princess.

Also, the estrogen-progesterone imbalance will cause depression. When estrogen is high, at the beginning of the cycle, we are anxious. When progesterone is high, before menstruation, we feel depressed. Also, vitamin D deficiency will cause depression. Vitamin D is not actually a vitamin. It is another hormone. A steroid hormone that gives us strength. Vitamin D is created when sunshine on our skin turns cholesterol into it. Notice the syllable "sterol."

I listen to Focus on the Family, a radio program, and it has really helped me with my relationship with my daughter who is now 25, but we went through some tough relationship/ personality issues. At the recommendation of some of their shows, we read 2 books that helped us: the 2 sides of love, and the 5 love languages. When we recognized we have different sides of love and different love languages we more easily could understand and accept each other. You can listen online at www.focusonthefamily.com. I am now reading a book they recommended called the DNA of realtionships by Gary Smalley. I love books that help me understand myself and others. This DNA book says most women have the fear of being abandoned and most men have the fear of being controlled. This plays out when the woman says to the man who is driving, "slow down." (She subconsciously fears an accident where she will be left alone.) The man who has more testoterone which makes him love challenges (as we already mentioned) and loves fast driving-- fears being controlled and therefore is offended. And a fight starts.

I have found an easy way to help this. Whenever I want my husband to do something I usually start by saying, "Would you be so kind to... This shows respect and also remionds him that I need kindness.

Men are very thick. Two hundred years ago before electricity and automobiles, we would be glad they are not bothered to go out in the woods and shoot our dinner. Now, we have to respectfully teach them how to treat us. This has been the challenge of the ages. We are the most effective when we humble ourselves and Flat out tell him, "Dad I am very self concious, and I need your help to feel good about myself. Please don't tell me to try harder. Please tell me that I am smart and perfectly beautiful in your eyes." I guarantee that her father already believes your daughter IS SMART AND PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL. He just doesn't know how to express it. Help your daughter to embrace this new challenge of learning how to deal with the opposite sex in a mutually satisfying way. Have her check out the men are from mars book from the library and read chapter 11. Mail him a note that says, Your words about my grades hurt my feelings and made me cry. I trust that you do not want me to feel sad after our visits. So I am writing this note so you can do better next time. Our relationship grade right now is a c+.
Love, Debbie

Natasha - posted on 06/12/2010

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Try talking to her first and see if she lets you know what is bothering her right now, also if that does not work Try to seek professional help, some of the things that these kids are going through now a days we as parents alone can fix it on our own. Also, I hope the father has not been promising her things and not keeping them or putting wild ideas in her head, just try to get to the logist of it all

Amy - posted on 06/12/2010

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I would get dad's view on what has taken place. Unless you have heard him put the restrictions on her friendships, heard him tell her to try harder even though she gets a good grade how do you know this is really happening? Not saying she is telling fibs on her dad but I have had my own children tell things on their dad and then tell dad things on me just to play us against each other. You need to speak to dad in private not in front of your daughter and voice your concerns. Work it out because you two fighting is not going to make the depression any better. Cut back on his time for awhile if you feel it is necessary but only after you have spoken with him and really find out what is going on.

Paula - posted on 06/12/2010

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If she's not willing to talk to within a family unit find a professional she can talk to who is completely detached from the situation. This may be confusing for her at first - but she is worried about what everyone else wants her to do. She needs to speak to someone who is not involved.

[deleted account]

That's a tough situation. Some people are just "toxic". Perhaps her father is one of these people for her. Your idea of professional help is most likely the best way to go. Keep reassuring her that she does not need to be afraid of it. Tell her it's not healthy for her to keep on going the way things are. A counselor can help her decide what the best parenting situation is for her, or at least how to better deal with her dad's controlling behavior. Perhaps she can begin solo counseling and that another time bring in her dad. If he won't cooperate or gets angry, then he'll have to face the consequences of changing the custody agreement. Good luck!

Anne Marie - posted on 06/11/2010

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Just an added not to the above. You should explain to her that depression can be life threatening in the end. Yes it is usually a suicidal trigger but don't use the term suicidal just tell her it can be life threatening. You tell her due to suicide then she may say well really mom I'm not suicidal but you really don't want it to get that far. I really worry about my daughter going that far. That is why I am seeing a professional.

Anne Marie - posted on 06/11/2010

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i have two sons who suffer from depression and I beleive my daughter who is 15 suffers from it too. Yes they do go through moods at this age. I can understand how hard it is to get the kids to go see a councellor. My sons are more open to it as they started younger. My daughter refuses, when my son was in treatment I had convinced my daughter to go but as the saying goes you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Well you can bring her but can you make her talk. I do believe that you can bring them and councellors are good at making them talk or just talking so they listen. But either way it is tuff. I do go see acounsellor regarding my kids. You can go and get advice, make dad go too. Tell him she has issues and we need to go, if he doesn't want to go then only adults who are concerned enough for her can take her. Another reason she may be resisting is that many people (adults &kids) see depression as a problem with me. Explain to your daughter that you want her assessed for depression. If she were a diabetic then she would need to have medication for that, If she had a heart problem she would need medication for that. Depression is chemical imbalance in the system and needs to be treated with medication. There are some types of depression that can treated with other therapy but the professionals know best. Teenagers see psychiatrists as the "nut farm doctor' so try to use the term professional, or specialist in mood or depression disorders. You may want to explain the term "mentally ill" is a mood disorder due to a chemical unbalance most people know not to use this term around kids but if it slips it really puts thier back up cause it means something totally different to them. I explain to my kids that depression untreated does affect all areas of their lives. At first they function with it but gradually they decline. I wish you the best of luck and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions. It is a tough one I know what you are dealing with cause my daugher refuses to go to and I worry about her, yours may still be young enough to be willing to try it ou t.

Jane - posted on 06/11/2010

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First, you need Dad's perspective. Strict is not necessarily controlling. And if she is feeling bad about an A-, then maybe he's trying to be reassuring. It's been awhile since you guys were married, and he may have changed.

I would get a counselor involved, especially since kids are notorious for learning to play parents off each other, particularly when the parents do not communicate well between themselves. I think the counselor should meet with you, Dad, and Daughter ideally, and get a feel for what's going on.

That should alleviate daughter's fear of you being the "bad guy", and if it doesn't, then perhaps the reason she doesn't want you to talk to Dad is that she's kinda playin' ya. Hate to say it, but 13 year olds do that. Been there. Believe me. It sucks, but there you have it.

Heidi - posted on 06/11/2010

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I would say that it never hurts to start early coaching her to tell her father how she feels. These are skills that don't come naturally to everyone and it helpst to start early. Its also good to remind her that she doesn't have to please everyone all the time. This is something that she could encounter more and more as a teenager and things like dating and friendship issues come along if they have not already. Also, delve deeper into how depressed she is, and don't be afraid to ask tough questions about feeling suicidal or using alcohol or drugs to cope. The more open the dialog you can have about how she is feeling, the better. I agree with everyone else- keep a close on her and kind of monitor signals of further depression- lower grades, less enjoyment out of things that used to be enjoyable, feeling "tired" all the time, changes in eating or sleeping habits.

Maryanne - posted on 06/10/2010

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Dear Jill

Either something personal happened in her life, that she is too affraid to tell you or something bad happened to her and she doesn't know how to tell you. Give her time, she will tell you the similiar thing happened to my daughter!

Kit - posted on 06/10/2010

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Please, please step in and modify her time with him. Something just doesn't add up. I think she should talk to someone, maybe if a so called "professional" is out of the question, how about a school counselor or teacher that she trusts. It will only worsen if something isn't done, I've learned from past experiences with my son that hind sight is 20/20. You notice changes, don't ignore the signals. I wish you and your daughter all the best, I know this isn't an easy situation for either one of you. You must do what you think is in the best interest for your child.

Jennifer - posted on 06/07/2010

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Wow you sound just like I did a few years ago. My daughter is 14 and we had the same issues with no father until she turned 9 then he decided he wanted to be a part of her life. He too is very controlling, he even wanted her to see a different doctor than the one she had been seeing since birth.
Anyway, have you discussed this with your family doctor? They will set you up with a Psychiatrist that will evaluate her and possibly refer you to a therapist that specailizes in teens with depression. My daughter has been taking Paxill for 4 years now due to depression and anxiety and this has worked for her. She was also seeing a really great therapist that helped her work through her feelings about dad. Also I agree that cutting back on time with dad may help, she may have some fears about his feelings for her.

Kelly - posted on 06/07/2010

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Jill,
Keep reassuring your daughter building a relationship with a father that has not been active in parenting until now is very difficult. The teenager years are very critical, keeping building her up and focus on her not the actions of your ex husband. You know that you cannot control his actions but you can control your actions. Stay focused on your daughter and her needs. Do not say any ill words about her father, this will make things difficult in the future for her. Always focus on her emotions. Seeing a professional is a great idea but at this age for your daughter can seem very overwhelming and what if her friends found out she would be devasted. How about a "life coach". She may need coaching in how to have a relationship with her father. I beleive that it is important to have this relationship. Just keep listening, that is the biggest thing. We tend to talk and not listen. Keep encouraging and positive words to lift her up. Stay strong. Parenting is the hardest job ever! But so worth every bit of effort.

Lesley - posted on 06/06/2010

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hi my daUGHTER IS NEARLY 13 AND SUFFERING FROM DEPRESSION we take lots of walks as fresh air is good for this also spoke to the school and we hve a home school coordinator who talks to her and me and teachers and she also goe s counselling it is hard watching them struggle when you love them so much hope things get better

Kristie - posted on 06/03/2010

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You don't need a counsler you need to talk to her father and put down some rules and no time should a child feel like this and you need to give him options one his time with your daughter will be limited if he can not deminstate parenting that does not hurt or hinder your childs growth emotionaly and socialy sit down with him and help him understand what your child feels and what is and is not acceptable in his responce to her belittleing her over a A- is digusting and forcing her away from her friends is unacceptable . This is not your childs problem sounds more like your ex's and you need to stand by your child to fix this before her self esteam is blasted apart !!

Jennifer - posted on 06/02/2010

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having a professional assess her is a very good idea. I also think that whatever this person states should happen, ie. family therapy. Figure out what she is most interested in and see if there is a group/club that she can join for this interest. That will improve her self-esteem. My parents always stated things like that to me about my marks. I am now in my 40s and am just starting to realize that I am incredibly smart, have my own way of doing things, people like me, I'm easy to get along with, I am loving, giving.........your daughter will find herself but I hope it is before she is 40. I hope she is able to see her worth and a club and a professional will help with that. Just a note.....in the teen years is a time when many mental health issues develop. Depression has been shown to follow in familys......keep that in mind.

Sarah - posted on 06/02/2010

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I agree with Angie, I had faught depression from my early teens, and hid it well from people. I finally got help about 6 yrs ago. She was a christian therapist who I felt convertable with and helped place anger issues on where they needed to go. I still fight depression but not on a level that I needed before. I have a good support of friends and my family now. This will probably be a long timed process and not an easy fix over night. I hope and pray for the best for both you and your daughter.

Angie - posted on 06/02/2010

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I am bipolar and have been since I was 6. When I was in my teen years, my mom used to tell me that I was melodramtic and to quit feeling sad all the time. As an adult, I went to the doctor and was put on depression medications. Finally, last December I got myself into therapy and combined with drug therapy, I feel better than I have in 35 years. Find a good adolescent psychologist and make an appointment for your daughter to get the help that she deserves. If you find a really good therapist, she will open up - she doesn't necessarily need to be "ready".

Michelle - posted on 06/01/2010

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have a cousler or therapest talk to her get her all the professional help you can find..I find that if you have help like a professional it may keep her from really thinking about harming herself and if their is something more serious than just teenage hardtimes.... it will help you to understand and give her a way to get out what she cant tell you family therapy or counseling...

Louise - posted on 06/01/2010

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I think until your daughter is feeling like her normal self you should restrict the time with dad as he seems to be the one who is behind all this. Let her stay with you and regain her self esteem and in the mean time have a chat with her dad telling him of your concerns. It is not working for your daughter if she is this unhappy and I have to say this situation does sound extreme for her if she is having to modify her friends in order to keep parents happy. You should both have the same parenting approach so that she can relax and know where she stands. Poor kid must be very confused. If you can, get her dad around the table so all three of you can air your problems, if he is not willing to listen then put your foot down and take control for your daughters sake. Hope all goes well.xx

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