Advice needed-Parenting Tween Girls with a Family History of Mental Illness

Updated on March 22, 2015
K.P. asks from Seffner, FL
7 answers

I have a daughter who just turned 12 & seems to be in the throws of puberty in the "hormonal" department. She is my first and only child who is very smart, caring, crafty, silly, helpful, etc. She got her period a little over a year ago & the PMS-type symptoms seems to becoming more pronounced, but not always consistent. She'll tell me her stomach hurts & I ask her if her period is getting ready to start...sometimes it is & sometimes it isn't...I'm trying to teach her to relate PMS type symptoms to her menstral cycle so she will better understand what's happening with her body. I taught her about sex & her female parts a long time ago & I feel like we have a good & open communication going on that front. The other part of this equation is that there is a history of mental illnesses in our family...general depression, bi-polar & schizophrenia. The threat of mental illness impacting my daughter has always been in the back on my mind & I believe the onset of puberty can be a trigger, but I'm no expert. What I'd like to ask is this: How do you know when it's time to have your child diagnosed/evaluated for mental illnesses? She has just begun to use words like "depressed", but I'm not sure she fully understands what that term means. Thanks in advance!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Portland on

I suggest that you should talk now with a professional about your concern So that you can stop worrying. My family has mental illness in the background and in my generation. No one in the family was concerned that their children might have a mental illness. When a parent is on the look out for mental illness they will see the possibility of mental illness in their child even tho there child is not mentally ill. I've had professional training in how to identify the possibility of mental illness. I also have a 14 yo granddaughter. What you describe sounds very typical for a girl having periods. Her body hasn't completely adjusted hormone levels. Add to that the reality of being a teen and such symotons can also be increased during adolescents. many women continue to have PMS as an adult. I had some of the symptons you describe until several years after menopause. I have been evaluated for mental illness and found to be typical.

I suggest you talk with a mental health professional to reduce your concern.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

With brain disorders, you do get a strong gut sense that things are extreme. For instance, OCD runs in our family and by three, our son showed clear signs of it. If he didn't open the garage door, we'd have to reclose it and let him or he would be completely inconsolable. If his karate belt was crooked, we'd have to readjust it over and over again until it was perfectly aligned. Things had to be done in a certain order or his world would crash in far beyond typical kid behavior.

With depression, it became apparent when absolutely nothing made our son happy. Very glass-half-empty. We were already taking him to a psychiatrist at that point and she identified it pretty quickly.

Really, things just start to seem "off" on a consistent basis. There's a real pattern of certain behavior that doesn't get better on its own.

It's great that you're being alert and concerned now. You'll be in good shape to identify the early signs.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Don't jump so quickly to diagnose her with something. She could be fine. Just because she mentions depression don't run her to the dr. Sit her down and talk to her about what she is feeling and go from there. Always keep the door open. If you start to notice some serious behavior changes revisit the idea. She could be fine and your ready to rush her into a diagnosis. I understand the fear that is lingering due to family history but until she gives you reason by action, not just saying depressed I wouldn't push it.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think you have to watch her for signs of mental health issues. Just because it runs in the families does not necessarily mean she will suffer from it. Familiarize yourself with the signs of depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia and watch for them. Just because she may be depressed one day, doesn't mean she suffers from depression. We all get depressed at one time or another - as long as it doesn't linger and we can snap out of it, we're fine. It's just when we can't snap out of it and it starts to effect all aspects of our life that it's a problem. As for schizophrenia, it doesn't usually start until late teens/early twenties.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Congrats to you for being on top of this before it could be ontop of you. Honestly your daughter's assessment of her world and the situations around her will strongly come into play as she progresses towards adulthood.

Is she proned toward the dramatic? Does she see a glass as half full or half empty?

My father has struggled with mental illness and my guess is my sister does too. I had a serious bout with depression but no mental illness though but was warned about keeping my brain chemistry level or at that time I could of ended up struggling with some aspect of mental illness.

Life is about cycles of happiness/joy, sadness and so many other emotions. Mental illness paints the colors of your world in broad strokes of what ever you think that is just on the outskirts of normal. Everyone isn't out to get you, everyone doesn't hate you, and life isn't all bad or all good. It's generally a series of ups and downs.

Your daughter's ability to consider deeply what she is feeling and sharing it will be very helpful as she navigates toward adulthood. I used to flood my senses with sad songs, sad movies, had a flare for working up drama in my mind about how this boy or that girl didn't like me. I would spend hours brooding to myself and watching myself cry in the mirror over nonsense but seemingly important nonsense to me. That was my highschool years. When I became an adult, I did take some of that with me. Eventually and event of my own choosing happened and then I spiraled out of control into a depression that threatened to consume me and my future. After almost 2 years of crying every day, I saught help because I was sick and tired of being sad all the time.

With all that said you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Your daughter is aware of the family history. Regular vigorous fitness is great for helping the brain chemistry be more level toward the happy end of the spectrum.

I have learned that I do get to choose how I will respond to situations in my life. I have learned that I may be sad but I don't have the luxury of wallowing in sorrow. I can just as easily now choose joy and happiness and I know the things that get me there and pursue and engage those things. Gone are my dark days. (My mother died with me in the room with her. That was almost 4 years ago. I miss her but I can live a life that is full and rich and happy even though I lost my biggest fan.) That's me being healthy and whole. Thank God.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

It's good that you can communicate with your daughter. As far as her period you should keep track of it too. My mother always kept track of mine. Sometimes kids use the word depressed and it doesn't have the same meaning as actual depression. Does she say she's depressed when she doesn't get her way or when things are difficult? I would let her pedi know and ask if they think she should be evaluated. It's probably just natural puberty moods but it wouldn't hurt to check. Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

if there is a known family history of depression, bi polar etc,. then you are a head of the curve. st johns wart, is a herbal treatment for bi polar depression, talk to a herbalist..first BEFORE taking the child to a regular doctor, a regular doctor will be only too eager to give the child drugs , which can make things worse,rather then ease the child onto a herbal regime , with the possibility of prescriptions later. K. h.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions