My Son Hardly Ever Smiles.

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q. My son is 16 and had been treated with Paxil for 6 years. He started at age 8 and ended at age 14. We weaned him off of it for a year. He doesn’t seem happy. He never did. He rarely smiles and laughs except when he is with his friends. He does hang with his friends about 2 to 3 times a week but other than that he stays in the house on the computer chating or playing video games. He sometimes skateboards. He takes a nap almost every day fo about 2 hours. He doesn’t share any feelings and is extremely quiet. We don’t know what to do or if this is normal for him. He had some therapy, when he was taking Paxil, but it never seemed to do much of anything. Any advice would be appreciated.

A: I’m glad to hear that your son laughs and smiles when he is with friends and that he hangs out with them a few times a week. At 16, it is usual for a kid to be more himself with his peers than with his parents. But napping two hours a day and withdrawing so much may indicate a problem. Please take this boy to another therapist for a “second opinion.”

I’m sorry that his first attempt at therapy wasn’t helpful but that doesn’t mean that therapy isn’t a good idea. As one of my young clients once said, “If you tried on a pair of jeans and they didn’t fit, you’d put them back. The trick to finding a therapist who will help you is to try enough of them to find the right fit.” You may have to shop around until you find a therapist your son feels he can really open up to and you feel you can trust. You may then get the help you need to figure out if his behavior is a reflection of a quieter temperament or if he is depressed.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Aug 2007

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2007). My Son Hardly Ever Smiles.. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/01/my-son-hardly-ever-smiles/