Typical or Troubled Teen?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker


Hi. I am a mother of 4 teenagers ranging from 14-18. My 16 has always had a strong will power, but lately she has been getting worst. She has gained a lot of weight has poor self esteem, doesn’t feel like doing anything (very lazy) Has periods where she is very excited about the future (wants to be an OB), but then doesn’t want to do anything. Example last yr she started out good in school, very enthusiastic but after a few months she gets sidetracked. Doesn’t want to do anything, very lazy, always tired, seems depressed, angry, moody. She disobeys me, very sloppy, unorganized, but when she tries she could be the sweetest most helpful girl. Always thought she had a problem with anger management so I have taken her to 2 psychologists in her life, but she gets tired and bored. They tell me there is nothing wrong, but she tells me she tells them what they want to hear. In other words she is not open with them. I am concerned that there might really be something wrong with her? or is it that I am exagerating? I feel she is getting worst. At times she does not respect me at all much less obey me. Won’t do chores all she wants to do is be on computer and TV which I have taken away for the summer. Is it just teenage behavior? Help? Don’t know what else to do or where to get help?

A: She sounds like a typical teen to me. But I never want to make that judgment without covering all bases. Please take her for a complete physical checkup. Ask that her thyroid and other hormone levels be tested. Sometimes weight gain, fatigue and problems with concentration are related to hormonal imbalances. It’s important to check.

If everything checks out medically, then maybe family therapy (you, your husband, and your daughter) instead of individual therapy for her will be helpful. Tell her how important it is for the two of you to work on your relationship. Assure her that you aren’t convinced something is “wrong” with her but that maybe you and her dad need to learn ways to be more supportive. If she won’t go, go yourself. A few sessions with a therapist who has expertise with adolescent issues and who can hear the whole story will be far more helpful than I can be.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Aug 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Typical or Troubled Teen?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/08/21/typical-or-troubled-teen/