CambodiaMom

Anyone homeschooling a depressed teen?

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CambodiaMom

My 17 year old son  (a junior) has always been home schooled.   We had him evaluated in December because he had lost interest in almost everything and was sleeping a lot.  (12-20 hours a day.)   So,  we got the diagnosis of moderate depression.  He's been seeing a counselor since then.  But there has been no improvement.  In fact, he is doing even LESS school work than before.   He is way behind in all of his classes.   I'm wondering if he will be able to finish his classes even working all summer.   (the psychologist said that the depression makes him work slowly,  like in the 3rd percentile.)  But sometimes he doesn't even work at all,  just staring into space or going to bed.   If you've had any success in helping a depressed teen continue on with his school work,  please offer suggestions.   I am looking at him not graduating "on time."   It is also really hard to see him so "sad."

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Merry

((((Hugs))) I'm so sorry. Is he doing medication also? Is he getting good, regular exercise?

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mamas2boys

((((Hugs))) I'm so sorry. Is he doing medication also? Is he getting good, regular exercise?

 

Yes, exercise is a big help. I've been severely-moderately depressed during several periods in my life, and alongside medication and counseling, exercise is the best help. 

Does he have a friend that he likes to spend time with? Interaction with peers is often one of the first thing a depressed person will forgo, so encouraging (positive) peer interactions would likely be helpful too. 

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CambodiaMom

Thanks for your comments.   He was playing basketball  (often we had to really push to get him out the door)  but the exercise and  interacting with others was great for him.  Now that basketball season is over,  he's still running and lifting weights.   Sadly,  he doesn't seem to have any "real" friends.   He has friends on the basketball team,  in his boy scout troop,  and at co-op,  but none of them do anything with him outside of those settings.    He has lost interest in scouts,  and while he still  (most of the time) goes to co-op,  he isn't doing any of the homework to actually get credit for the classes.  He is not yet on medication.   I think we may have to head in that direction....

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SewWhat?

My son is a senior, and sounds the same. Thankfully he only has 2 classes to finish. Over winter he literally was in his room all day except to eat. 

I FORCED him to go outside and take a walk. I knew it'd make him feel better. It feels strange making such an old teen do something, but I KNEW it'd be for his own good. Now that I've been forcing him out for a few days he told me today he guesses it does help because he is feeling better today. By force, I mean I told him I'd turn off the wifi and take his video game controllers if he didn't go out.

 

He talked to someone many times last year when he was worse and it helped a lot. He doesn't want to talk to him anymore though so I decided to try this forcing him outside thing before forcing him to go back to the counselor. 

 

A lot of it has to do with his not wanting to face growing up, college, job, etc. He's overwhelmed with all the choices. It helped to break up the decisions. ie ok, today we're going to just think about what you may what to go to college for. Then, not talk about it for a week or two. Then, which colleges, then not talk about it for a few weeks, etc. That helps. He just doesn't want to face all the decisions all at once.

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CambodiaMom

I do wonder at times if my son also doesn't want to grow up  (fearful.)  His counselor said that my son was very pessimistic about his future and his ability to be successful.   (But he's actually a pretty great kid!)   He does get out most days....he likes to run, shoot hoops,  and play with the dog.

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SewWhat?

I do wonder at times if my son also doesn't want to grow up  (fearful.)  His counselor said that my son was very pessimistic about his future and his ability to be successful.   (But he's actually a pretty great kid!)   He does get out most days....he likes to run, shoot hoops,  and play with the dog.

That's good that he does still go do those things then. Very depressed people will stop doing the things they like. My son stopped going to a couple activities he had used to love.

 

My son is VERY pessimistic about his future too! He's a very bright kid but just thinks he's a failure. :( 

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polarbearla

I do not have experience with a depressed teen but I have lots of experience with depression in general. I struggle with it and a majority of my family struggles with it. I like the suggestions of physical activity. I think it's important for people who struggle with this have a life long habit of getting regular exercise, limiting electronics and eating healthy. I suggest doing these first consistently before medication. I am not saying medication is not needed but for moderate depression it is very likely that lifestyle changes will help and all that a person needs. I just hate to see such a young person have to deal with meds, if it's needed than it's needed, but many times lifestyle changes can help manage.  I think the exercise and the good food and even vitamins can just help the body work better, giving yourself more endorphin's and serotonin are really important. 

 

Activity is important and also learning to not dwell and worry about oneself. In my opinion one issue with depression is being too self aware. This does not mean a person is selfish, but that they dwell on their problems and on themselves too much. I think learning techniques like Rebecca mentioned is good. Thinking about a problem and it's solution and learning to put it away for a time. Taking time out to intentionally think of someone else and doing something for someone else. Also being careful not to overwhelm oneself. Trying to learn ways to deal with worry and anxiety by talking to someone, keeping a journal, prayer, regular bible reading and stuff like that. 

Edited by polarbearla
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CambodiaMom

Thanks for your input,  Polarbearla.   He's doing pretty good so far on the exercise and good nutrition part,  I think.  I can't see him doing a journal anytime soon,  however,  and his Bible reading is rather sporadic.   He does usually go to church willingly,  although last week he refused to go.   (too tired)   He's lost interest in most everything that he used to enjoy.   He's seeing a therapist who isn't that big on meds,  who thinks most people can progress without them.   But so far we haven't seen any forward progress.  If anything,  things are a little worse than they were when he was diagnosed with depression.   He does about 45 minutes of schoolwork a day,  if that.   And then it's just going through the motions...not really trying to learn.    He may end up with only two credits for his junior year.  What kind of vitamins are helpful for depression?

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Laos1975

I'm not Polarbearla , but 2 that I know that help are a good probiotic (something from a health food or vitamin store that has been kept refrigerated, or alternatively something from a regular store but at higher doses) and Omega 3.  

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polarbearla

I recommend just a good quality multi vitamin. I have never found counseling helpful. To be honest sometimes I think counseling progresses the problem of being in your head too much. I know others are helped with seeing a counselor. However, some counselors are better than others, if you feel he is getting worse than I would switch.  Only doing 45 minutes of school work a day seems a bit more than moderate depression. It sounds like his depression is seriously hindering his ability to participate in life. 

 

I suggest a different counselor or getting a blood workup done. I am not sure exactly how to do the blood work up, but my sister had gone to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester at one point and they did several tests. They could test her serotonin level and saw she was seriously low, they even did some sort of genetic test to show that was an issue as well. I wish I had more info about that, but it may be something to ask his doctor about and see what sort of tests can they do. Just say you are a bit leery of medication and want to know if there are tests they can do to see if there are things not working right in his body. 

 

It just sounds like you are all doing the things that need to be done to help this and it could be something medical. 

 

Does he talk with you at all about what he is thinking and what is going on with him? Does he have any reasons for why he thinks he is having problems? 

Edited by polarbearla

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kolamum

I hesitate to say this because all situations are different, but we're dealing with a child with anxiety that was headed towards depression. The wait to be seen by a professional was a scary long time in our town so we ended up speaking with a Christian Counselor {he actually has lots of letters after his name} from the USA to get things rolling for our child. Our child couldn't be given any medication until seen by someone local so we ended up going with something natural for him to tied us over. The results have been amazing & at this stage we haven't felt the need to go any deeper. Having said that, despite the fact that the drops he takes {Bach Remedy} are natural he cannot go without them or he is an absolute mess. It also took about 24 hours or so to start getting good results. We had a MAJOR setback several months ago & it turned out our child had stopped taking his drops because he thought he was "cured" as he felt so good. Once we realised that & got him back on the medication his Primary Care Dr told him that he should treat those drops just like he would any medication she were to prescribe & not to stop taking them without letting Mom or Dad know. 

Anyway, I'm only mentioning the drops because of the huge success we've had. Again, EVERY situation is just so unique & different it may not be something you want to even consider.. I don't think we would have looked at them had it not been for the extraordinary wait time we were looking at, but Im' grateful we did, kwim?

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SewWhat?

I hesitate to say this because all situations are different, but we're dealing with a child with anxiety that was headed towards depression. The wait to be seen by a professional was a scary long time in our town so we ended up speaking with a Christian Counselor {he actually has lots of letters after his name} from the USA to get things rolling for our child. Our child couldn't be given any medication until seen by someone local so we ended up going with something natural for him to tied us over. The results have been amazing & at this stage we haven't felt the need to go any deeper. Having said that, despite the fact that the drops he takes {Bach Remedy} are natural he cannot go without them or he is an absolute mess. It also took about 24 hours or so to start getting good results. We had a MAJOR setback several months ago & it turned out our child had stopped taking his drops because he thought he was "cured" as he felt so good. Once we realised that & got him back on the medication his Primary Care Dr told him that he should treat those drops just like he would any medication she were to prescribe & not to stop taking them without letting Mom or Dad know. 

Anyway, I'm only mentioning the drops because of the huge success we've had. Again, EVERY situation is just so unique & different it may not be something you want to even consider.. I don't think we would have looked at them had it not been for the extraordinary wait time we were looking at, but Im' grateful we did, kwim?

My 15dd takes Evening Primrose Oil liquigels. We started her only on her week before her period, her really moody and depressive week. She has realized she doesn't have the ups and downs if she takes it daily. When she seems depressed I ask if she's taken it, and usually the answer is no. I'm also hoping this more natural remedy will be enough for this child.

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Laos1975

I hesitate to say this because all situations are different, but we're dealing with a child with anxiety that was headed towards depression. The wait to be seen by a professional was a scary long time in our town so we ended up speaking with a Christian Counselor {he actually has lots of letters after his name} from the USA to get things rolling for our child. Our child couldn't be given any medication until seen by someone local so we ended up going with something natural for him to tied us over. The results have been amazing & at this stage we haven't felt the need to go any deeper. Having said that, despite the fact that the drops he takes {Bach Remedy} are natural he cannot go without them or he is an absolute mess. It also took about 24 hours or so to start getting good results. We had a MAJOR setback several months ago & it turned out our child had stopped taking his drops because he thought he was "cured" as he felt so good. Once we realised that & got him back on the medication his Primary Care Dr told him that he should treat those drops just like he would any medication she were to prescribe & not to stop taking them without letting Mom or Dad know. 

Anyway, I'm only mentioning the drops because of the huge success we've had. Again, EVERY situation is just so unique & different it may not be something you want to even consider.. I don't think we would have looked at them had it not been for the extraordinary wait time we were looking at, but Im' grateful we did, kwim?

 

Kendra, which Bach Remedy does your child use?

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kolamum

Kendra, which Bach Remedy does your child use?

 

It changes each month. I have ours made on sight at my local health food store. The elderly lady in there took courses based on them so when she hears what's wrong she can figure out what you need. She's been spot on every time except one when we had to have them remade. What I will say is there is often Walnut & always Rescue Remedy in it, but the other mixtures change.

If you can find someone in your area who is familiar with them & mixes the tincture you might be able to just discuss with them what's going on & they should be able to make something. 

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Laos1975

It changes each month. I have ours made on sight at my local health food store. The elderly lady in there took courses based on them so when she hears what's wrong she can figure out what you need. She's been spot on every time except one when we had to have them remade. What I will say is there is often Walnut & always Rescue Remedy in it, but the other mixtures change.

If you can find someone in your area who is familiar with them & mixes the tincture you might be able to just discuss with them what's going on & they should be able to make something. 

 

I've never heard of this before.  I have moderate ADD (not ADHD), and have found a lot of relief with a few supplements.  So I'm not as skeptical of natural remedies as I used to be.  I found this site:  http://www.bachflower.com/ , and will look into it more.  Thanks Kendra!

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sozo mom

Just FYI, sometimes problems do get worse before they get better when starting counseling. When you see someone once a week or twice a month it means the problems are always right there on the surface. They are being focused on which can make things worse at first. Nice coping skills are learned and put into practice it may get better!

Also, have a health work up done for him if you can! No amount of counseling or exercise will fix depression if your iron is low! Or whatever else may be happening!

I was a counselor in my former life (aka before children) and we were taught to always have people have health work ups!

Praying for you

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CambodiaMom

You have all been kind to respond to me and share your experiences and advice.    I wonder about the "medical workup."   We have taken him to the doctor for excessive sleeping,  and the doctor said that my son was "extremely healthy."   I feel like the doc took us seriously and checked for low iron,  diabetes,  maybe some kind of test for cancer  (?)  the things moms worry about.    But we didn't ask for any kind of test on serotonin levels.  There is a test for that?   We do have an appointment for a psychiatrist in one month,  so if he's not better by then he may get a prescription.  I feel bad about that...but he's been miserable and not very interactive.  I hate to have him start on meds - the people in my life who take anti depressants are all very happy with that decision - but they are on them for life.   That seems like a big decision for parents to make for their teen son.     In the meantime my son is taking SAMe,   which helps my sister-in-law.   It does seem that he is awake a lot more than before.   Maybe it is helping a little.  He's only been taking it for a week.   I purchased a one month supply.   I think it usually helps in about ten days.    I thought the Bach flowers was interesting,  but it was a little "out there" for me.   The school year is winding down,  but he hasn't finished any coursework.   I think we will repeat his Junior year.   He will be working this summer and also doing an unpaid " internship"  with a friend who fixes up yachts. (electrical, plumbing, woodwork,  mechanical.)   We are hoping a change of pace will help him get up and out the door.   He may take classes at the local CC next year.  (Dual enrollment is available here.)   

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Little Women

I have a 20yo who is adamant about not wanting counseling or meds, so I have read a fair amount about other ways of dealing with anxiety and depression.   Exercise, of course, is key, as is basic healthy eating.    Probiotics are very important for some people (and are something I can actually get her to take!)    Magnesium and vitamin D are important for both of these, too, and they work together.   Now that we are getting into summer, perhaps he can sit outside in the sun even if he isn't willing to do anything else.   

 

US food also contains a lot of artificial ingredients and dyes and preservatives, which can have a big negative impact on some kids.  They are neurotoxins, so they particularly affect the nerves, moods, etc.    Even food labeled "all natural" is not what most of us think of, and "no artificial ingredients" might still spray the packaging. As many whole, natural foods as possible are good, though of course it can be really hard to make the time to cook them!

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CambodiaMom

Hi Melinda,  Thanks for taking time to read and respond to my post.   On other threads I think we've talked about the Feingold diet;  my son has been on the Feingold diet for about four years.  We are very careful - and have seen great results with the diet.    I sometimes wonder if we need to go "beyond"  Feingold,  but don't know if we can do the GAP diet or go Gluten and Casein free.  I have been trying to get him to take the probiotics,  but he hates pills in general.   I think maybe the SAMe is working...he's had two really good days.  (for him)

Edited by CambodiaMom

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Little Women

I've been wishing I could get dd to try SAM-e. Anything whose major purpose is dealing with depression or anxiety is out in her mind.  She only does things that "everybody" needs.  

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CambodiaMom

I'm actually surprised that my son has been so cooperative in taking the SAMe.   I hate to get my hopes up,  but it's been a really good couple of days!  Is your dd depressed or anxious,  but not admitting it?

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Little Women

She knows she is, but "I'm ok, really.  I'll be fine. Don't tell me something is wrong with me!"   

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