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Anxious And Depressed Son

Question:

My 20 year old son is very depressed and anxious. He has no friends and feels he cannot connect with anyone. He feels he is different from everyone else and will never have a meaningful connection with anyone. He refuses medication, despite a strong family history of depression, and refuses to see a counselor because he’s seen several in the past and feels they do not help him. Help!!

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

The fact that your son has been to several counselors in the past does not mean he ever got the correct diagnosis. It seems as though his primary problem is depression and anxiety, and that could be true, but, there are other possibilities. These range from Aspergers Syndrom to  Avoidant Personality Disorder and even Bipolar Disorder is a possibility. He needs an assessment done by a Clinical Psychologist or Psychiatrist. I have no way of knowing but I have a hunch, based on what you have written, that he was never properly assessed and diagnosed. This may be the reason why he feels hopeless about psychotherapy. Much like the rest of the field of medicine, the correct diagnosis determines the type of treatment and perhaps medicine used, if medicine is called for. He needs to know this so that he might feel more encouraged to get the help from which he would benefit.

Good Luck

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    You mentioned counseling not being much help. It is possible that the styles did not match, but perhaps it would match better with the right counselor. For example, in my case, I like to take responsibility for myself, I have a high need for control, and when they did intelligence testing when I was younger I would score 2 standard deviations above the mean. I do better with a collaborative approach, where the counselor is seeing me as an actively involved partner in the process. It took me awhile to find that style, as most I ran across tend to be more directive and controlling. It's not that one style is wrong and another is right, but it's about matching the style of the counselor with the style of the client.

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