27 answers

Teen Daughter with Depression

I don't really know where to start. Our daughter went to therapy once after we found she was cutting herself - the doctor talked with her & my husband for 20 minutes then started referring drugs. We did not want that to be the first level of effort in helping her. In hindsight, we should have just kept looking until we found a doctor that was willing to do some talk therapy, etc. Anyway, we did not - we just decided she was really ok – the cutting stopped - that the mood swings and sadness were due to adolescent angst and the fact that she was a bit overweight. For the last three years, we would see periods of sadness or anger at us along with many times where she seemed perfectly fine. She does keep a diary but only seemed to pull it out to write if she was mad at one of us. When I would be worried about her and she would leave the diary out, I would sometimes read it. Occasionally, I would read negative things about me - that I was trying to make her into a doll and she wasn't that kind of girl. At first, it really hurt my feelings, but I would remind myself that she was using her diary to vent. But there would be troubling things I would read - that she felt dead inside - broken - that she had thought of suicide but would never do it because she would not want to hurt her best friend. However, over the last year she began to appear “better” – a bit more social – happier. For the first time in a long time, I read her diary. It had the same type stuff as before. First, I do feel guilty reading her diary – I want her to have her privacy. But I also want to know what is happening. While she shares a lot with me, it is not the details she used to share during our talks. One entry in her diary referred to a friend going through depression. She said that he needed to learn her “trick” – just put on a happy mask and no one is any the wiser. Now, I am concerned. I don’t want to admit to her that I read her diary but I do want to get help for her. Part of me wonders if the diary is just a venting tool on the worst of days – a place for drama and flair (I guess that is my denial). I want to get her help without her thinking that I don’t love her the way she is – that I am trying to “fix” her (another thing I was accused of in the diary). One last point, in the diary, she says that she is broken and can’t be fixed. I wonder if therapy can help if she is convinced of that. Thanks for the area to share and I welcome any advice.

What can I do next?

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I am so sorry that you are going through this! This is a very serious situation. Get her help immediately! I don't want to scare you, but many teens have actually committed suicide without displaying any of these hints she is giving you. She can be "fixed", she is actually crying out for help through these little hints. Do not hesitate, get her help before it is too late. Don't worry about what she thinks of you, it is more important to get her the help that she desperately needs!

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I have just been going through this with my own teenage daughter. Her pediatrician recommended a therapist and she has been seeing her for 2 months now. It has made a world of difference. My daughter loves talking to her therapist and I can see the difference it has made. We have not needed medication thus far. The therapist talks to me at the end of a few of the sessions, she seems to really know what she is doing. I highly suggest she see a therapist for a while before medication is thrown at her. Some of the anti-depressants are quite dangerous for teens.

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You don't have to tell her you read her diary, but if she asks I would tell her the truth and explain it is because you love her and are concerned about her. Take her to a therapist, give it a month and see if it clicks with him/her. If not, try a different therapist until you find one that helps. When she asks why, just say you always felt that you made a mistake not taking her to someone to talk to years ago instead of medication. You are not trying to 'fix' her, you just want her to talk out her problems and learn how to cope in this very stressful world.

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I am definitely no expert, but I think that your daughter needs help. I also think that as a parent it is our right to read our child's diary, shuffle through their room, and look through other personal items. It's part of protecting our children.

I would let your child know that you are concerned, that you have done some research, and that you feel that she is hiding a great deal of sadness and you feel that she is suffering from depression. (I would recommend actually doing some research via the internet, and share some of the research with your daughter.) This way, she won't know that you have read her diary. In fact, I would not let her know. This way, you can continue to check on her through her diary since she isn't that open with you. Don't lose that venue of information regarding her mental health.

I would also try another psychiatrist/psychologist. Maybe if you see them first without your daughter and find out what their stance is on medication, then you can get a feel for him/her first. Most doctors would understand this. Also, keep in mind that many mental issues such as depression really are due to chemical imbalances and therefore may actually need medication. Only a psychiatrist is trained to find the difference. But if they know that you want to try other things first, they may be more apt to do so.

Our children are precious to us, so when they are hurting like this it is hard to witness and even harder to bear, so we often tell ourselves that things are fine. Please don't ignore this, because things can escalate to the point that it is to late to find help. By seeking help, you could be saving your daughter.

I would like to reiterate that I am no expert. This is just advice. Good luck with your daughter. I truly wish you and her the best.

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A., sit down and listen very carefully...you're baby is crying out for help. Anytime someone displays signs of depression you have to get straight to the point. Ask her if she is having thoughts of injuring herself. Yes, use the S word...suicide. You cannot tiptoe around this issue unless you are prepared to bury your baby. I'm sorry to be so blunt but she needs help and she needs it now. Find a professional for her to talk to. I don't agree with medications either for teens and kids, but she definetly needs to talk. Something is going seriously wrong in her life and if you don't find a way to help her it's going to end in tragedy. Again, i'm sorry for being so blunt but I had major depression as a teen and even tried suicide a few times, thank God I failed. Please, please please find someone for her to talk to...a professional not a local counselor will do. My very best to you and be cautious when she starts acting extremely happy and relaxed...this could be a sign of her finally making the decision to end her life. Find a support group or suicide prevention training program for you and your husband. Your family needs help. I'll keep you in my prayers and wish you the very best.

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A.,

I read many of the responses promting you to get a therapist or see a doctor. But I think that getting involved with a church might be a better route. You see even though people say that they accept you the way you are, Christ actually does. He is the one who can change you from the inside out. I don't know anything about your spiritual life. I don't know if you even believe in God, but He is the one I turn to. When I was a teenager I went through a time of severe depression, but most of the time I wore my happy face because it was easier than having to talk about it. I made terrible choices to spite my mother, I slept around hoping for love and attention. I smoked pot because my friends did and they accepted me. I only tried cutting a few times, it wasn't my thing I guess. But through all of that God was there, I could hear in the back of my head telling me to stop, to just come back to him and I ignored Him for a long time. I was angry for what He had "let" me go through, I was angry at my mother for "letting" it happen (I was abused, molested by my step father, he has since passed away.) Anyway, that was something major that sent me on that course, but it anything could start a child on the path to depression. It took me a long time to sort through and figure it out on my own.
Now I spend time with local highschool kids (many are kids from our church and their friends) and hang out when I can, I just give them someone whose NOT their mom or dad to talk to. I shoot straight with them, but never "tattle" or told them how wrong they are. I just give them an option. There are people like me everywhere. In a church, a youth center, the local Y. Tell her how much you love her. Take her and her friends somewhere together. Invite her friends to YOUR home to hang out, show her effort. Don't just send her to a doctor. All that will tell her is that you think she needs to be "fixed."
There are plenty of websites and people and places that will help you guide your daughter. email me, I would love to talk with you more. We can get you in touch with the right people. No judgement just guidance.
You and your daughter will be in my prayers.

2 moms found this helpful

I have just been going through this with my own teenage daughter. Her pediatrician recommended a therapist and she has been seeing her for 2 months now. It has made a world of difference. My daughter loves talking to her therapist and I can see the difference it has made. We have not needed medication thus far. The therapist talks to me at the end of a few of the sessions, she seems to really know what she is doing. I highly suggest she see a therapist for a while before medication is thrown at her. Some of the anti-depressants are quite dangerous for teens.

2 moms found this helpful

I am so sorry that you are going through this! This is a very serious situation. Get her help immediately! I don't want to scare you, but many teens have actually committed suicide without displaying any of these hints she is giving you. She can be "fixed", she is actually crying out for help through these little hints. Do not hesitate, get her help before it is too late. Don't worry about what she thinks of you, it is more important to get her the help that she desperately needs!

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A.,
I suffered from depression as a teen and young adult.
Your daughter is a teenager and while she may think or feel that she is broken and can't be fixed - teens often think that they know more than they do. I felt the same way.

When you took her to therapy, you took her to a psychiatrist. While they do have their place in therapy, most of the actual "therapy" happens between a psychologist and the patient. Then, if medications are needed, the psychologist will refer you to a psychiatrist. However, your daughter's depression seems to be severe enough that she may need medication. Don't shun them - depression is often caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain - and the anti-depressant drugs work to restore the balance. It can take awhile to get the dosage right (docs start really low) but the results can be amazing. The meds COMBINED with regular therapy will likely do a world of good for your daughter.

Please don't wait. Even though her diary says she won't commit suicide because of her friend - one day that tether to her friend may not be enough to keep her here. ANY mention of suicide should be taken seriously. I used to volunteer for a teen crisis line - and trust me, this is your daughter's cry for help. She may not know it yet and may not act like it, but she needs you more than ever right now. Please do get her into therapy as quickly as possible and make her stick to it. Years from now she will thank you for it.

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Run and I mean run to get your daughter to a therapist of some kind. Don't worry about the diary thing. It's my feeling that she is in a lot of danger and needs help immediately. A good therapist will also have you there with her for at least the initial session so that you can assure her that you do not see her as broken in need of fixing, rather that she is hurting and you'd like to help her with her pain.

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I think most of the responses are that you need to do something about this and do not delay! I understand your concern about the diary but..... I think you did the right thing reading it to get some insight. Don't be afraid to take her for a routine physical and tell the doctor before the appointment of your concerns. The doc can talk to her and work through the situation and/or refer her for further help. If they don't, then go to another doctor. I suggest a routine physical to open the door for you to take her to see someone if she isn't exactly open to going to therapy. Putting her on some medication, if it helps, may be necessary. Talk therapy alone may not work in this situation. There are many different kinds of meds they can prescribe. I had to go through this after the birth of my son. There is nothing wrong with getting help if you need it and she sounds like she does. Don't think she is fine, as she can cover it up and some days are good and some bad. My girlfriend just lost her daughter to suicide and it is happening a lot among teens as I am constantly hearing of children doing this. Be wary of the suicide games as well. If she gets with the wrong kids, they may suggest things that can turn deadly. You don't want to go through the pain of what could happen as it will be with you your entire life. I feel there is no more hurt for a mother than the loss of a child. Know that you have done all you can for her. She will get through it if you work at this. My niece also went through this and she is now doing fine. They are going through a lot as teens mentally, physically and socially. There are pressures and you need to help her even if she doesn't want it at this time. Remember you are the parent. She will eventually thank you.

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Hi A.,

You are in a tough spot and I don't envy you. I would seek counseling for her. It is hard finding a good counselor and one that your daughter can relate to and it may take going to several until you find one that she clicks with. Depression is a sad and scary thing. I have 6 children ages: 14, 16, 18,19, 20 and 23 years old. We have been thru alot with 2 of them that have had major health problems. My now 19 year old at the age of 13 was diagnoised with brain cancer/tumors. He had brain surgery that left him blind in the righ half of both eyes, had speech problems and dropped from a 9th grade to a 2nd grade reading level. He fought depression and talked of suicide. We got him counseling at Duke with a counselor that works with kids that have these kinds of issues. The counseling really helped. We never needed to put him on medicine for this. It took us going to a couple of counselors until we found one that he liked to talk to. Some of the things that your daughter has written in her diary "that she is broken and can't be fixed" really sends a red flag for me. She may have been sexually abused by someone and doesn't know who to turn to or tell. I was abused at 13 by an uncle and it took me until I was 17 that I actually told someone and got some help. It doesn't make sense but the victim feels at fault and that they will be the ones in trouble if they tell someone. I know I lived through this. I suggest finding someone for her to talk to. It is sometimes easier for them to talk to someone other than a family memeber because they don't want you to think badly of them. I really think therapy can help, it helped my son and he since has suffered another brain surgery that left him paralized on the right side and having to learn to read again for the 3rd time. The counseling taught him coping skills and how to deal with challenges. He is now 19 serving a mission and totally self sufficient. Good luck, my heart goes out to you.

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Find a great, non-judgmental church with a great youth group. She will get positive input and meet a good bunch of kids. God works! Good luck and God bless.

2 moms found this helpful

I don't have a teenage daughter yet, but I do have a husband who suffers from Bi-polar disorder and depression comes along with that disease. It took him a long time to get the help he needed but it came down to the point of it almost being too late. My advise is to listen to your motherly instincts and help your daughter get help! Yes, she might fight back a little and she might get mad at you, but you're her mother! In the end she will love you for helping her...Good luck. We'll be praying. And don't feel guilty or bad about this...I think you would be surprise at how many other mother's are going through the same things with their kids.

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My heart goes out to you. I understand about reading the diary and the privacy also. I think most Mom's would do the same thing in the situation. Even if they do not want to admit it! As far the depression, I am not one to just take a pill and everything will be fine but depression is a medical issue and she may need the medication to help her body stay level. If your daughter had high blood pressure or asthma wouldn't you give he medication? Depression is a medical condtion as well. If you attend a church that has a youth minister you might be able to talk to that person about your concerns with your daughter and let them help you get your daughter the treatment she needs. The regular minister could also help as well. If you do not attend church or not comfortable with that then you need to admit to your daughter that you have read her diary and feel she needs to see a therapist/ doctor.

Please do not wait until she has a bad moment. My father suffers from depression. When it was really bad he was contemplating suicide. He would always make off handed remarks about he was worth more money dead that alive and the world would be better off without him, etc... I did not take him seriously when he said it. He almost lost his job because he just would not go to work. Finally his union rep talked to him and told him that he needed to see a doctor for depression. He did and they put him into a 30 day program at the hospital. He then did out patient visits 3 times a week, then it decreased down to once every 6 months now. When he does not have his medicine we can tell as well as him. He catches himself getting upset over things that do not usually bother him. Being a teenager today has a lot of pressures. Everything from friends, school, grades, ACT & SAT test, college and with the economy the way it is now that just adds more layers on an already stressful time. God Bless and I will pray for your family.

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You don't have to tell her you read her diary, but if she asks I would tell her the truth and explain it is because you love her and are concerned about her. Take her to a therapist, give it a month and see if it clicks with him/her. If not, try a different therapist until you find one that helps. When she asks why, just say you always felt that you made a mistake not taking her to someone to talk to years ago instead of medication. You are not trying to 'fix' her, you just want her to talk out her problems and learn how to cope in this very stressful world.

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Your child is either in big trouble with problems she feels majorly overwhelmed with or knows how to play the cards to get attention. If she is acting fine like nothing is wrong but writing different things in her diary then I would go with the problems. She needs someone to talk to that is not going to run to you unless they think there is danger of suicide. I took my daughter to therapy for 2 years and with medication "10mgs of prozac" she is controlling her depression. Depression runs in our family. It can be hereditary to a point and if you dont know how to deal with it then it can be a problem. You want to know the problems but you dont always need to know. Let me give you a rundown of some of the things my daughter talked to the therapist about and finally told me when it was resolved.

My daughter is half black and half white. She feels like she doesnt fit in. Nobody feels like they fit in at some point because they are growing and changing. She is kinda chunky and was upset about that. She is 14 and looks 20. She wears a 34D. She went to camp, lost 10 pds. Once again with the changing. Boys expect more these days and if your not willing to put out then you are gay. If you do put out you are not a "nice word" either. She has learned to deal with the fact that boys will try to pressure you into what they want. She makes friends eaiser with boys than girls. She eventually has made some girl friends and is over the trouble with that.

The list goes on. Nothing real big but real big to her. One person calling you a name in front of the whole school can feel like your world will end. She needs someone to talk to about things going on in her life and really you need to just understand that if needed the thearapist will tell you what is going on.

As for the medication issue. It is a personal choice. My daughter takes 10mgs of prozac. It is the smallest dose. It helps her when it is that time of the month so that her world is not crashing every month. Depression is really hard to deal with and it can start out with changing hormones because of the "curse" and continue on. It takes about 2 weeks to feel the full effect of the pills but it can make a world of difference.

1 mom found this helpful

A., I understand your situation. I have a teen step-son (16) who I have raised for the last 7 years. He had a very troubling childhood and was overjoyed when his mom gave him up to us. He has a hard time making friends, especially with other guys. In the last 6 months he has taken to "counseling" the girls he met this year at HS. They have confided in him on a variety of levels from cheating, drinking, drugs, sex, and even childhood molestation.

We believe as parents that as long as he lives with us we are privy to all information to protect him in the best possible way. We do read all incoming and outgoing texts, although he does use the phone late at night, read all emails and check behind him after internet usage, and check his online statement from his debit card. (He does know that we do this as a house rule.) His mood is rapidly changing since talking with these girls and it now seems as if I'm challenged with a teenage daughter. His mood swings, unending drama, back talk, complaints of serious depression, and breaking down into tears when things don't go his way are just a start.

I've wanted to put an end to his interaction with these girls, but think I'm overreacting. They are his only friends and in return he does need someone to vent to. As soon as my husband's new insurance kicks in I am going to set up counseling or therapy. (maybe family) I know that there are obviously deeper issues which need confrontation. (He also picks all his scabs and they take weeks to heal, lies about trivial things constantly, and can't stop cracking his knuckles, and wringing his hands.)

I think you are doing the right thing as a mother as far as invading her "privacy," and wanting to seek her some therapy. Again, there probably is some underlying aggression or issue she is not comfortable talking to you about. How can one protect their own child if we are so hung up on giving them "privacy," and "not breaking their trust?" I'm not out to be bff's with my children. I am here to parent and guide them with making good choices through life. I remember being a teen and making almost really bad choices, only to be caught by my mother. I hated her then, but am secretly glad she kept me from doing something I would of regretted. Depression, cutting, suicide talk, and anger are not things to be taken lightly. Trust your gut and get help. S.. (feel free to email me if you need to vent! ____@____.com)

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Cutting is an indicator that there are unbearable feelings going on.

My older daughter as an older teen was mildly cycling... it looked like "normal" stuff. In retrospect I guess it was not.

When she fell into deep depression she was given antidepressant and seemed fine again then not then fine, then not... and the psychiatrist did not recognize bipolar although by that time everyone else did.

She began cutting when she was in "mixed states". Cutting can become like an addictive drug - it releases endorphins - and can be a hard habit to break. We were lucky she fought the addiction before it got too bad.

Then we got onto the rollercoaster ride of bipolar meds that didn't really work and twelve years later she was still unstable and by then had permanent side-effects from the meds....

Only to find out she had gluten sensitivity, needed nutrients, and needed her thyroid medication changed and the levels raised.

Now... after all the years of her young adult life gone, she is picking up the pieces of her life and moving on.

We have nothing against psych meds. I think they are life savers. But some people also need, (or instead need) underlying issues treated. You might look here for another side: www.ItsNotMental.com

We also think that therapy is extremely important regardless of the underlying cause. Dealing with extreme feelings requires a lot of extra tools in a person's emotional skills chest.

yes get her to a therapist she might not talk much but after a while she will open up. just tell her she seems a little unhappy. she wont think you are trying to change her just trying to help. since you seem to have a pretty open relationship just ask her if she would like to go see a councilor. someone whos out side of the whole situation. alot of times it helps just to have someone listen. teen depression is not uncommon at all. but do get her some help or talk to a councilor at school. good luck i have been where she is get her that extra set of ears to listen.

My heart goes out to you.

I have a daughter who will be 17 in a few weeks. She was in therapy for some time and takes meds. I will say that if she's cutting, it's probably more than depression (definitely some self-esteem / self-worth issues) and it's important to find her a good therapist. And the therapist can refer you to a psychiatrist, if he/she feels meds may help.

A word of caution: find her a therapist that will talk to you also. The one my daughter saw for about 2 years never told me about the drinking, drugging and cutting. I found out from journals after she ran away.

My husband always maintained that our daughter's room was her "sanctuary" and was private. Now I regularly snoop. If I had found those journals years ago, I believe she wouldn't have been in such despair. The therapist gave me a line about patient confidentiality but my daughter is a minor and I feel she had an obligation to inform us that our child was engaged in self-destructive behavior.

The therapist my daughter saw more recently laid it on the line -- she said kids experiment but she told my daughter that if she was placing herself or others in imminent deadly danger, she had to call the authorities. If she engaged in behavior such as cutting, sneaking out and doing any drinking or drugs to the extent where she wound up with people or in places where she didn't know where she was, she'd tell us.

Bottom line -- get your daughter some help now so that hopefully she can work through it. Better to put the effort in now (and it's easier to get services for a child), instead of later, when her issues could be more severe or be an unstable adult out on her own, without your support.

I don't know what you are going through, but I do understand what your daughter may be going through. When I was a teenager I suffered from a really bad depression and was into cutting myself. It was the only way I could find release from the emotional pain that others didn't seem to understand. Therapy quite literally saved my life. Find someone not only you trust but your daughter feels comfortable with and trusts. Your daughter may fight tooth and nail, but you have to make her go. It may take a while to find the right counselor, but you have to try. Good luck.

She is crying out for help. If you weren't meant to see her diary... she would be doing a better job of hiding it.
I am now 30 years old, but when I was between the ages of 12 and 15, I did the same exact stuff... cutting, thoughts of suicide, etc.
Therapy helped and I have been on Zoloft ever since. Some people's chemistry is just not quite balanced. There is nothing wrong with trying an antidepressant.

I work with a bunch of therapists in the Raleigh, Durham, Cary, Chapel Hill area who are awesome with helping girls with these issues. Let me know if you want a good referral - send a message. If you don't leave near here, I still might be able to help find someone good. I don't blame you at all for caring about your daughter - it sounds like you have good reason to be concerned and in those cases, the idea of privacy is trumped by good parenting instinct. I wouldn't tell her you snooped, but see if you can get her to talk a little in another way. We've all put on that "face" from time to time so maybe you can use an example from your own life to get her to open up?

I normally don't respond to things but in your case I wanted to. I have a daughter who is 10yrs. old quite a few years ago she started to become very anxious all the time and very clingy, We took her to therapy and she was diagnosed with O.C.D.It was very stressful and she likes to pretend like she's perfect and that everything is wonderful because she worries that people are judging her. I had to tell her that I wanted her to talk to someone because I don't have the ansewers for everything, and that sometimes she might not feel comfortable talking to me. I let her know it really had nothing to do with trying to change her but, that since she may not always feel comfortable talking to me so, I wanted her to know that there is someone she can talk to that will not judge her and will keep her secrets.(within reason)I also have let her pick her theripst we went thru 4 of them before she found someone she felt comfortable with. Plus, I looked up all these therapist to see their education and to find out if they work with alot of children like my daughter. The women we are seeing now, 70% of her cases are children with severe to obbssesive anxiety and my daughter loves her. She does alot of cognitive behavioral therapy and makes my daughter very aware of her problem and how to deal with it herself. I hope this helps. Once I explained that as a mother I have faults also and sometimes I need people to bounce ideas off of and to help keep me ground when I don't know my way. She seemed alot more comfortable with going. I tell my daughter perfect people are weird and unnormal and that you cannot be succesful without failure. Sometimes I think they just want to know you don't care about their faults or failures and you just want them to be happy and that if they can't talk to you then you'll find them someone they can talk to.

I'm a mother of 2 daughters, my oldest is 10. I'm not sure what I would do about the diary situation, admitting or not that you read it, but I do have one suggestion. Do you, or your daughter, attend church anywhere, or do any of her friends do? It may seem cliche for me to recommend God to you, but He is the only One that can help when all else seems to fail. Speaking to a pastor, or a Christian-base counselor might help you. You might want to go yourself to get some advice on how to approach your daughter and her fears and depression. I will pray for you and her. I know I would want someone else to do that for me if I were experiencing what you are now. Good luck.

You really need to get your daughter into therapy immediately! Find a good marriage and family therapist for her. When I was a teen I felt a lot of the same way that your daughter does. Therapy saved my life!

I am a psychiatrist. Please check out my website (http://www.capraleigh.com).

My philosophy centers on caring for you in a comfortable, warm environment, and addressing your individual needs in a professional manner.

Call your local Child Advocacy Center and ask the names of the three best children's therapists in town and schedule an appointment.

Hormone and chemical imbalances can really cause depression. I'd have a heart-to-heart talk with her and ask her what brings (or gives) her 'joy'. If she has some responses, try to encourage and supply those 'things/experiences'. Or have another trusted adult friend to 'mentor' her -- take her shopping, eat-out, movies, walks, bike/horse rides, etc. and just talk with her.

Instead of acting frustrated that she is like she is, try to come at it from 'below' -- that you want to KNOW her as she is instead of trying to 'make' her into something she isn't. Anyone can only start from where they are, and if someone is standing over them saying, 'Why don't you . . .?' or 'Why did you . . .?', it's counterproductive. Just a little difference in attitude can go a long way in helping her open up (this is hard for me, too, so I'm basically 'preaching in the mirror'). We all have to keep trying, though, don't we?

God bless and hope this helps just a little!

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