Q: I have taken several online depression quiz’s and they all say the same: I am severly depressed. My mother is currently on depresion pills. I was hospitalized in the late 1990’s for an attempted suicide. I am over that. I want to know if their is something that is puting me into a depressed mood. At school with my friends I feel loved and feel like I am worth something to someone. But when I get home that happy feeling just melts away when I walk in the door. At home I feel sad, unwanted and like I am just a burden on everyone else. I feel unloved and it is as if my worth is that of the dirt on the bottom of a shoe. But when I am away from my family I am happy again. At home I a irritable and likley to snap at anything. I can’t remember the last time I was able to sleep all the way through the night. Also I feel like my accompishments at school go un-noticed and things like that are a big deal to me seem to only burden the people around me. No one notices anymore when I get A’s only when they tell me to do better are my fults acknowledged. It is because this depressed feeling seems to only spur up when i am around certain people I am greatly confused about if I am very depressed or not. Can depression be triggered but certain people or things that once you get away from those things you can start to slightly feel happy again?

A: One of the criteria for mental illness is that symptoms are consistent across different settings. That doesn’t seem to be the case for you. Out of the house, you can be your good natured self. In the house, you feel unappreciated, worthless, and unseen. My guess is that when you are home you are really, really angry and sad that your family isn’t what you would like it to be. Since you are only 16 and not ready to be on your own, you are stuck with the situation – which only makes you feel worse.

My best wish for you is that you would find a way to get your mother into therapy with you, not because I think there is something wrong with you but because maybe the two of you could work things out so that the next few years (until you graduate) could be better. Perhaps she would be willing to ask the doctor who is prescribing for her to recommend a family therapist for the two of you. You could also ask your schoool guidance counselor or your own doctor for a recommendation. If that seems impossible, you might want to see a counselor yourself to help you figure out ways to cope with the situation. Meanwhile, you can make things better for yourself by staying busy with sports or activities and by spending as much time as possible with the people who make you feel good. A part time job would both keep you out of the house and give you the funds to do more things. And by all means stay in school and do well. You want to get yourself into a good college or job program so you can build the life you want as an adult.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie