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My 12-Year-Old Brother Has Mental Breakdowns and It’s Getting Worse

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My brother is 12 and the youngest of four, twin brothers (13) and myself, sister (18). I don’t know when it started but mainly within the last year, it has gotten worse. Over small things, such as the Internet being turned off for bedtime or a stick being taken away from him at a park or basically when things don’t go his way he gets severely angry. It has progressed from a short tantrum to now taking an hour to calm him down. He won’t talk, he just screams no matter what you say. He has recently started to be violent, starting drastically in the last 3-4 ‘episodes’. He goes completely red in the face and his temperature goes through the roof and he sweats profusely. He is destructive towards anything, kicking doors/walls, breaking things off shelves, kicking stuff over. It can get to the point where he needs to be restrained and we can’t leave him with himself. My mum is scared that people will take him away and that breaks her heart.
We try and talk him down but it’s getting worse and worse… (From Australia)

My 12-Year-Old Brother Has Mental Breakdowns and It’s Getting Worse

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While it is impossible for me to offer a diagnosis based on what you’ve said I can make a very strong suggestion that your mom take your brother for an evaluation by a psychiatrist, clinical or neuropsychologist. These professionals are trained in doing evaluations that can help pinpoint the problem, and more importantly make recommendations about the potential solution.

His age, birth order, high temperature, sweating, verbal abuse, physical violence, inconsolability, and extended episodes are a collection of symptoms you’ll want to have a professional evaluate. It is not likely for him to improve without some outside help.

He is lucky to have a sister that cares as much as you do. Thanks for writing us.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

My 12-Year-Old Brother Has Mental Breakdowns and It’s Getting Worse

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). My 12-Year-Old Brother Has Mental Breakdowns and It’s Getting Worse. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 Mar 2019 (Originally: 27 Mar 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 Mar 2019
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