My son was complaining about bullying issues and becoming very depressed in his high school (9th grade) so my husband and I decided to move him to a therapeutic school with therapy and academics. Since doing that he is worse…..he says he is depressed and wants to kill himself/not live very often. His psychiatrist increased his abilify to 10mg and he’s on 75mg fluvoximine. We are on vacation together in florida and I see his fluctuating moods. He gives us so much hassle when we want to spend time with our cousins who he has fun with. When we get him to join us, he swims with them and plays football and is smiling and laughing. He will then go out to dinner with us, be happy, eat well, have dessert, walk around and suddently get into a foul, disguisting, nasty, rude mood. Part of me thinks he does this when he doesn’t want us to have fun or meet friends. We used to leave him and his sister together if we wanted to go out for a little bit locally, but with his unstable behavior, I don’t feel comfortable doing this anymore. I feel like we are walking on eggshells and am wondering how much his moods are possible mental issues or how much being a nasty teenager. I feel like he may be saying he wants to die or he is going to kill himself for attention or to get what he wants at times. Is this possible? How do I know if he is really feeling this? I know not to take anything like this for granted and I am praying this may be teenage angst, but it is so difficult to know what to say when he says he feels like this and can’t tell me why. (age 48, from US)
I’m sorry that your son is going through such a difficult time — which also means the family is, too. Without knowing your son, I’m not sure that I can help decipher things any more than you already have. The problems could be typical teenage angst and moodiness that can be influenced by hormones, developmental changes and social pressures, but it could also be a legitimate mental health issue. And you are correct in thinking that some teens talk about suicide as an attention seeking behavior, but it can also be a true expression of suffering. The combination of teenage impulsivity and depression can create a very serious risk.
It sounds like you have some resources in place with the therapeutic school and psychiatrist. Your best bet is to reach out to them and become as involved in his treatment as possible and make sure that he is getting the level of care that he needs. In addition, I would suggest helping your son find outlets that he finds enjoyable, build self-esteem and give him something to look forward to. This could include sports or clubs, volunteer work, martial arts, or it could be something like equine therapy or Outward Bound.
I hope this helps and things get better soon.
All the best,
Very Sad Son with Changing Moods and Bad Anger
Holly Counts, Psy.D.
Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.
APA Reference Counts, H. (2018). Very Sad Son with Changing Moods and Bad Anger. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/02/21/very-sad-son-with-changing-moods-and-bad-anger/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 21 Feb 2016) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.