Teenage Boys And Depression

The start of this post was written almost two years ago about the beginnings of my eldest sons fight with depression, anxiety and the medical profession.

November 2013

Good morning to you all. The sun is making a sterling attempt at showing its face today and I can happily report that my little demons (anxiety and depression) are currently off on a little break leaving me feeling very well.
I have to report though that not everyone in my household can claim to be experiencing such good mental health.
I would like to introduce you all to my eldest boy M, otherwise known as the man-child. He is 19 years old and currently lives half the week with myself and the other half of the week with his father.
Now I am well aware that depression can have a strong genetic basis so it was no suprise to me when the man-child in recent months has confided in me about his feelings of fear, nausea  a sense of dread that has no obvious cause and general unhappiness. He knows that I suffer from anxiety and I am glad that because of our close relationship, he feels able to come to me for advice.
The advice I gave was two fold, firstly to do all the self help techniques I use  relating to diet, caffeine, sleep and exercise.  The second bit of advice I gave him was to go and talk to his doctor.

He came back from the doctors a week later very unimpressed with the way he had been treated. Despite seeing a female doctor and explaining to her his symptoms and his family history (maternal grandmother and uncle are bi-polar, paternal grandfather schizophrenic,  both parents with depression) the doctor fairly much dismissed his concerns that his anxiety and depression was getting worse and just sent him away with a leaflet thay contained less useful information than I had given him.

I have subsequently did a bit of research about depression in teenage boys on the Internet as a means of finding additional support for my boy and have on my search found some facts that in addition to his treatment by the doctor seriously concern me.

The facts on teenage depression
10-15% of teenager will be suffering a depressive episode on any given day.

25% of all teenagers will have suffered a depressive episode at least one depressive episode.

Girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression after the age of 11 as boys are. This should be good news for boys, except that it could also indicate that many boys such as mine are being wrongly turned away rather than being taken seriously.

suicide is the 3rd highest cause of death in young men between 17-24
It is this last fact that concerns me more than any other as it supports the view that these boys are being ignored, possibly viewed as just being troublesome moody teens until such time as they can take no more.

For my man-child my concerns for his long term mental health are not that severe. He has a good network of friends, he has taken a massive step by recognising he has a problem and seeking help and lastly he has me, a nagging worrying mother and fellow sufferer.

Back to 2015

Im afraid to report M has not had a good couple of years. Despite an obvious deterioration in his mental health, his doctors continued to treat it as a non serious problem for a further year. Because M is over 18 his doctor did not feel it was necessary for him to have any chaperone with him at his appointments, although M has very mild learning problems and hearing problems.
In the past year he has been diagnosed with depression and is being treated for this, but (and this is a HUGE but) the doctor still does not think M has bi-polar. I know I am not a medical person, but as someone who has seen family members and service users I look after suffer from manic episodes, I recognise the signs. Everything about M changes. He cant sit still, he talks too fast and makes no sense, he doesn’t take his medication, he takes stupid dangerous risks. Basically he thinks he is invincible.
The doctor says this is simply a slight exaggeration of the behaviour typical to males of his age.

I fear what the future holds for M. He has not got a job. His behaviour has already got him in trouble with the police. He has a 3 month old son who he is not allowed to see (I guess that makes me a nan, but there is no joy in that).
I just hope at some point someone in the medical profession will look beyond his age and start seeing the obvious symptoms he is displaying.

Do you have any experience of young adults and mental illness? Are there other places M can go for suitable advice and support?

Useful Organisations

Blurt Increasing Awareness and Understanding of Depression

M.I.N.D Mind, the mental health organisation

Scientific Fact* Anxious Dragons feed on blog comments. Please help keep this dragon well fed. Thank you Xxxx

*Possibly not true

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Domesticated Momster

Mummy and Monkeys

Binky Linky

Modern Dad Pages

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The Dad Network

My Random Musings

The Blog Centre Showcase Tuesday</div

Best of Worst

40 Comments

  1. Anita Cleare (@thinking_parent)

    September 24, 2015 at 7:48 am

    The charity Young Minds specialises in mental and emotional health issues for children and young people. Fab website with lots of info (for both parents and young people themselves) and also a parents’ helpline. Really recommend it for any parents concerned about a child or teenager’s wellbeing.

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 24, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Thank you, will get him to check it out X

  2. mummuddlingthrough

    September 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Oh dear. It all sounds very sad and familiar. My brother had mental,health problems in his early twenties and I’m sorry to say the support available to him and my family was pretty non existent. I will say though, that he did get through it and is now happily married living a pretty idyllic life. Don’t give up hope x x #momsterlink

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 24, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      You know that is all my boy wants from life, a job a wife and a kid or two. Hopefully one day….

  3. Mummy Tries

    September 25, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Oh your poor boy, sounds like he’s not getting any support from the medical profession, and for you it must be heart breaking, especially as you can see the signs of bi-polar. Is it worth looking at his diet? I know there’s a huge link to sugar consumption and depression, also magnesium supplements and foot baths work wonders for a good friend of mine who suffers. Sending positive vibes, and wishing you a nice weekend!

    Thanks so much for sharing with #DiffLinky

  4. Silly Mummy

    September 25, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    How difficult for you and your son. I think the medical profession is very erratic with mental health issues. Some GPs are great and very supportive, but there do seem to be a lot around who are pretty dismissive, even when there is a clear history that should cause concern.

    I agree with you about young men – they are such a significant category within suicides that I think you have to conclude that they are being under diagnosed and under supported in respect of mental health concerns. I suspect that because it is not uncommon in young men for emotional or mental health issues to be masked with frustration and aggression, the underlying problems are often missed and not investigated. I think due to differences in the way these things are often displayed between the genders, it is more common for a girl to be noted as vulnerable and struggling, but a boy to be written off as ‘naughty’ or ‘difficult’ and no further questions are asked.

    I hope that support for your son improves. #picknmix

  5. jermbarnes

    September 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Find another doctor. I think the most important thing in situations like this is finding somebody that the child is comfortable talking to. It may take some looking, but I think it makes all the difference. Each one is going to have their own style and opinions. if they aren’t compatible or making a difference move on.

  6. nightwisprav3n

    September 25, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    And yet they ask why young men are snapping! This enrages me as it is the same thing here in America! If you can possibly get a second opinion, go for it! Second thing, that doctor is an ass and needs to be smacked! Because your son is an adult, if he chooses to have a second person in the room with him, that is his choice and the doctor can’t tell you you can’t be in there. Of course, I don’t know how it works in the UK but here, my ex still sometimes asks me to sit in with him when seeing certain doctors, why? because he knows that I will speak up when he can’t and the doctor can’t tell him he can’t have me there. I hate that your son is being treated this way. I hope some of the advice you’ve already been given helps you and him both. Sorry for my outrage! I often wonder if maybe doctors (and some parents) hadn’t continued to ignore these young men, some of America’s mass shootings never would have happened. This is another example of gender inequality and it needs to stop! Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Twinmumanddad (@Twinmumanddad)

    September 25, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Wow, this must be so hard to deal with as a parent. I hope your’e all getting the support you need. Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 25, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      Unfortunately support is still lacking X

  8. chrisps

    September 26, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Thought with you & your lad. He’s fortunate to have such a strong and knowledgeable advocate in his Mum.

    Touchline Dad

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 26, 2015 at 10:30 am

      Thank you. Its the support from my online friends that keeps me going X

  9. Nige

    September 26, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Great post as usual it sounds like you both have had a tough couple of years hoping for better times ahead thanks for linking to the binkylinky

  10. Random Musings

    September 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    This must be so hard for you both, it annoys me no end when people are refused help by their GPs, the people who’s actual job is to help. I would seriously be thinking about switching to a GP who actually understands the condition, or at the very least takes your concerns seriously enough to send your son to a specialist. #bigfatlinky
    Debbie

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 26, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Unfortunately he sees the doctor who has the best reputation for being sympathetic with people who have mental health problems. The other doctors are old dinosaurs who still follow the ‘pull yourself together’ line. In a small town we dont have a great deal of choice in doctors

      1. Random Musings

        September 28, 2015 at 12:22 am

        That’s not good. It must be so frustrating that he won’t listen. I really hope your son gets the help he needs.
        Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes
        Debbie

  11. acornishmum

    September 26, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    This must be so hard but also so frustrating! It may be worth changing doctor or doctors surgery if you can, to get a second opinion from someone who might listen!
    Thanks for linking up to #Picknmix and good luck

    Stevie x

  12. supermumandotherdisguises

    September 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    CALM https://www.thecalmzone.net is a great charity. I have worked with many young people with mental health problems and since the conservative goverment the NHS mental health services have been torn apart. More details of that in my ‘reply to Jeremy Corbyn’ Post. You could try writing to your MP?
    My heart hurts for you as a mother of a child who is no longer a child but still needs help. I have seen it so much. Maybe try and get him involved in some meaningful volunteering? Does he want to work?

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 27, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      My local MP is the Tory chief whip Mark Harper. No point in going to him for help. M is suppose to be going back to college to finish a plastering course. He is quite good at practical stuff so as long as he sticks to it, it could lead to a job

  13. nikkifrankhamilton

    September 27, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Your story is my life.It is so good that he has you, keep pushing, him and his doctors. I wish I would have pushed harder. My son is 23, instead of continuing to hope for acceptance and help-he had been disappointed too many times-he began to use drugs, first prescription pills, then heroin. I believe he is bi-polar too, his father was and he committed suicide. My son is now in jail and I am fighting for his life, I am telling his story, Our Story, on my blog, in hopes that it helps others. Once again, your son is so lucky to have you, I did not catch the symptoms, there were very few, he had learned to hide them too well. God bless you all and I hope your son gets the help he needs.

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 27, 2015 at 11:46 pm

      Its a horrible situation to find yourself in. Dont blame yourself for what has happened to your son, hindsight is not much use in these situations Xx

  14. Lady Nym

    September 28, 2015 at 4:48 am

    I’m so sorry he’s going through this (and you). My 16 year old sister is already on antidepressants. Depression and anxiety run heavily in my family and I worry about my boys in the future. Tyger has ASD, which already makes him more likely to suffer from both anxiety and depression without throwing in a genetic disposition.

    Half of the six teens and adults in this household are on antidepressants (including me). I feel I was dismissed when I first went to my GP because I was a teenager at the time (I was sent for ‘talking therapy’ but the therapist was very dismissive) and I believe you’re right that it’s often even worse for boys. There’s still an outdated and sexist view that men should ‘suck it up’. I think they’re less likely to seek help in the first place because society doesn’t think men should have such an ’emotional’ condition and then when they do seek help it seems they risk not being taken seriously.

    I hope your lad can get appropriate help soon. Keep fighting for and with him.

    #AnythingGoes

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 28, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Does have Tyger higher functioning autism?

  15. Kirsten Toyne

    September 28, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I really feel for you and your son. It is horrible to feel powerless within a system. I would keep fighting his corner and if he wants you there go to his appointments, it is his choice not the doctors. I really hope he gets the help he needs soon. Kirsten

  16. DomesticatedMomster

    September 29, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    It baffles me the statistics that you have listed in this post! I never knew the suicide rate was that high amongst young people. I do know that so many are misdiagnosed or just shuffled through the system. The mental health industry is just so overwhelmed and not enough resources. Thank you for sharing this with #momsterslink

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      September 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Yes, unfortunately that one didnt surprise me, as a couple of my male friends over the years have commited suicide. The resources are definately lacking, but I think its more than that. The attitudes towards men and mental illness needs to change. Men should not have to feel they cant open up about their feelings. XX

  17. Sarah Howe (@RunJumpScrap)

    September 30, 2015 at 8:00 am

    I’m sorry to hear your lad is struggling but more shocked at how the medical profession seemed to have failed him for a little while. I think it is one of those things you are going to have to keep pushing at until the right person listens. Good luck and hope he can find the help he needs. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst hun and see you again xx

  18. Mumma McD

    September 30, 2015 at 8:19 am

    My sister really struggles with mental health issues too – it’s just so painful for everyone involved. I hope your son gets the help he needs soon.
    #bestandworst

  19. The Blog Centre

    October 1, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Hope your son gets the help he needs and deserves. In this day and age, one would think that “man up and move on”mentality would be less prevalent in the medical and mental health field. Thank you for sharing this post on #ShowcaseTuesday

  20. martynkitney

    October 2, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve said it so many times…..The system is crap. To get the help you really need is difficult. Even worse when you’re seeing him go through it. Hope he gets the help he deserves. #bigfatlinky

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      October 2, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Things do seam to be a little better at the moment, so fingers crossed Xx

  21. debsrandomwritings

    October 18, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Hi Tracey, I’m so sorry that your son wasn’t diagnosed better and sooner. It’s horrible when the system lets you down, there’s nothing more frustrating than being dismissed when you have an idea what the problem may be.

    It took us years to get our son diagnosed with Aspergers (and added extras), we were constantly dismissed and ignored. My son is now eighteen and I fear for his future. I am aware that people with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder are more prone to depression and I watch him closely, as he battles to recognise how he feels on a day to day basis and would have no clue if he was feeling depressed.

    I hope your sons treatment starts to work and his life picks up.

    xx

    1. The Anxious Dragon

      October 18, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Aspergers is indeed difficult one to get docotors to diagnose. I know people who havnt been properly diagnosed until they were in their 30’s.
      I think for your son, his diagnosis should be a positive thing for his mental health, by knowing why he is different (im basing this observation on conversations ive had with adults with aspergers). He also has you looking out for him xx

  22. Pickinguptoys

    May 8, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    My teen has been diagnosed with anxiety,I still feel it’s more than that however the GP was adamant.We are still on a waiting list to be seen for CBT months later and he’s not feeling any better.It took me months to get to the GP thinking it would help but now he feels fobbed off and as though it was a waste of time.I’ll keep pushing though as it’s worrying watching him go through rough periods.No matter how old they are you never stop worrying do you x
    Pickinguptoys recently posted…Dear Diary 27th April 2017My Profile

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      May 8, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      I was just saying to Martyn that I need to add another update to this post. Shortly after I wrote that post M had a complete psychotic breakdown and ended up being sectioned. He spent 9 months in first a secure institution and then a mental health rehab centre. He is much better now but it is so typical that someone has to reach crisis point before their mental health is properly treated. (And I was right, he is bipolar)

  23. Stu

    October 5, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Oh this sounds heartbreaking – it must have been so infuriating not being supported by the so called ‘professionals’. I’m glad to hear from your comments that he is getting more help. We have depression/mental health issues running through both sides of our family and I dread to think about what the future is going to bring sometimes.
    #oldschoolposts

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      October 5, 2017 at 9:37 pm

      Yes I have to say 4 years on things are better for M. But it took him to have a complete psychotic breakdown to get that far. I am very aware of how close we came to losing him

  24. Star Harford

    October 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    I notice this was a couple of years ago and Im really hoping you managed to find him some help? Its so difficult when someone you love is going through something like this. Especially that he asked you to help and took your good advice to have the DR not take him seriously! How aweful for you both!

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      October 6, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Hi Star, unfortunately help was not forthcoming and a short while after I wrote that post he had a complete psychotic breakdown and spent the last 2 years recovering from it. He is however fully recovered from it now and I’m glad to say things are really looking up for him at the moment xx

  25. Richie Sayers

    October 12, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    I have just seen the latest comment and I am glad he is fully recovered. it’s sad that our doctors cannot or will not do the necessary things to help people get better. Thanks for linking up to #oldschoolposts

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