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Social Anxiety Disorder/Depression - How did you keep moving forward?

BSL1199BSL1199 Registered User Posts: 78 Junior Member
My son (sophomore, 15) was recently diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and Depression. After seeing a therapist for 3 months, he was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed Prozac. The course of treatment is Prozac coupled with weekly visits to the therapist. We have been told that the Prozac will help with the depression which will make my son more amenable to the therapy for the Social Anxiety Disorder. We have also been told that it could potentially be a long time until he finds some relief. To date, he is on day 2 of the medicine.

I'm happy to be patient and so thankful that he's getting help but I'm wondering how to "keep the ball rolling" regarding high school and college. I have 100s of questions and concerns about his future but I thought this forum would be a good place to start.

If you have experience with this with your child, did you let anyone at their high school know? My son hates being spoken to by adults, he dreads being singled out/praised, and he pushes away all attempts by teachers/counselors/coaches to get to know him. At the beginning of high school, I would get a lot of concerned calls or comments about his demeanor but now no one at the school really bothers with him anymore. I would say at best he's perceived as a "punk". His grades are A's and B's but slipping every semester. Do you think more support and understanding at school would help?

Also, did you try to get any testing or homework accommodations for your child? According to the therapist, my son's head is constantly swimming with negative thoughts, it's very hard for him to sleep/study/concentrate. Should I ask the school what kind of support can be provided for him?

Thanks in advance for your help.
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Replies to: Social Anxiety Disorder/Depression - How did you keep moving forward?

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,176 Senior Member
    Interesting that the doc is using Prozac. There must be a reason. It is slower to get onto and easier to get off of. Lexapro is a good one if Prozac doesn't help. Is your son "on the spectrum?"

    For depression and social anxiety I would certainly seek a 504 plan for him with accommodations in school. The psychiatrist and therapist can document things. You can write a letter for them to sign. List the accommodations that would help: extended time on assignments? postponements for tests? You can meet with teachers and tell them what the situation is, too, in a group or one by one. It definitely helps.


    If things get worse, there are ways for him to continue with school even if he doesn't go. He can have a tutor at home, and also he can have an arrangement where he goes when he can and doesn't go when he can't but gets assignments, class work, notes and tests at home on a daily basis.

    But he should improve, so good luck!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,176 Senior Member
    The 504 coordinator would be the person to call a meeting to come up with a plan :)
  • iwantalltheinfoiwantalltheinfo Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    I feel for you. Hang in there!

    At the very minimum, the school counselor, psychologist and nurse/health room need to know. The first two are key resources for any assistance the school can give as well as having that information could be important when deciding on what classes to take or if any scheduling accommodations need to be made. Or if he is having trouble at school (of any type--academic, social or behavioral), knowing his diagnosis will help them help him. (Even if he is not interested in anyone's help, they can be a resource for YOU)

    Whether or not he needs accommodations is something to discuss with his psychiatrist and the school counselor and/or psychologist. My child's was not interested in accommodations, and truthfully, her academics were not suffering. We did, however, put her on a reduced schedule for senior year.
    Every child's needs are different, so figure out where your child's difficulties are and look for possible changes in those areas.

    The school health room should have a record of him being on medication for no other reason that if there were some sort of medical emergency (not necessarily related to his mental health condition), the people treating him should know that information.
    My child suffered from a physical health condition along with her anxiety and depression, so she spent a lot of time in the clinic. The clinic aide was so kind and supportive and was fine with kids coming in to lie down for a while if they needed to rest (mine did need to rest often). Knowing there is somewhere to get away for a few minutes may be helpful for your child, even if he never needs to go there. (This may depend on school policy and the attitude of clinic staff, but my experience has been they are all kind and accommodating.--I see above that someone else had this option at the counselor's office, so figure out what the options are at your school)

    And, hopefully, your child is engaging with his therapist and making progress. We did need to change therapists a few times to find one that worked. Do not worry if that happens--and a good therapist will tell you if things are not going well.

    Good luck. Many hugs to you!
  • PublisherPublisher Registered User Posts: 5,906 Senior Member
    I have no experience in this area, but I do worry about the health and safety of anyone dealing with these type of issues.

    I would like to make a simple, yet very serious, suggestion that you consider getting your son a dog. Sometimes individuals relate to dogs better than humans. Caring for a pet may help lessen the focus on oneself.

    I hope that my suggestion doesn't seem trivial. It is meant as a sincere, practical & effective self help step.
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Registered User Posts: 3,124 Senior Member
    Prozac was (can still be as an add on) a good drug for my now adult child when she was a teen (but we're talking about a little more than depression/anxiety, so she's been through a lot of drugs). It's one of the few approved for pediatric use and is considered "activating." Will it work? Maybe. Maybe not. But there's honestly nothing you can do keep the medication ball rolling, so to speak, because it just takes time. Now obviously if there are sudden, distressing side effects, call the pdoc right away.

    Did we tell the school? High school. No. Why? Diagnosis evolving. Daunting documentation process was probably going to create a lot more stress. Too many "involved" parties. And she didn't want to. She was a little older, and really, needed to take ownership/make decisions about how she wanted to handle things. Were she 15 and a sophomore instead of 17 and senior, might have been different. College, yes. One office. Communication with faculty a simple card that said "this must be provided." Up to her when she wanted to use it.
  • damon30damon30 Registered User Posts: 307 Member
    I second the recommendation in post #5. I will get wrapped-up in my own thing and my dog will come over and want to play. The dog likes it, and it's good for me too.
  • Siena19Siena19 Registered User Posts: 36 Junior Member
    Hi there, I know you started this thread for parents to give you advice, but I thought I might be able to provide some insight as someone who was in a very similar situation as your son is now. Firstly I want to agree with most everyone on here, it does get easier––hopefully for you and him. Prozac is helpful for a lot of teens and I'm sure his doctors will adjust if it's not working for him (medication can be really hard to get right so just be patient with that). As for letting people at the school know... honestly it depends. The only people that knew at my school was my guidance counselors. The first was super helpful and talked me down from a ledge quite a few times, but the second (after transferring schools) made me feel much more alienated, singled out, and alone. I would suggest talking to your son about who he feels comfortable knowing, because pressing him to talk to the guidance counselor might not be helpful. He may need a 504 plan, but I didn't have one and finished high school in the top 10% of my class. Again depends on the individual.

    Something that definitely helped me was talking to other teens that were going through similar battles. I would highly recommend group therapy or something similar where he is able to relate to other kids and realize he is not alone in this. Best of luck to him and you. Sending good wishes
  • BSL1199BSL1199 Registered User Posts: 78 Junior Member
    Thank you all for your replies and kind words. I've read them several times and really appreciate the suggestions. I will let the school nurse know about his medication for sure. I like the idea of letting some trusted people at the school know, getting the 504 plan, and seeing what type of help he can get there. Unfortunately, I doubt that my son would agree to that right now. In my experience (not professional - just as a mom, aunt, friend, etc), teen boys are very hard to help, they think they are invincible and that they have everything figured out. He has surprised me with his willingness to go to therapy and take the medication but I'm going to wait to bring up the subject of additional help at school. Thanks again for sharing your personal experiences and I wish you all the best!

    And I love and completely agree with the comments about dogs! We got ours about three years ago and it was the best decision ever. He is therapy for all of us :)
  • jenericjeneric Registered User Posts: 181 Junior Member
    Every kid is different, but I would not do much with school right now. Give the Prozac some time. He has probably been dealing with this for a while and learning how to function in the world is important. We've been dealing with this for several years and while high school have made it more challenging, I won't try to get accommodations. My D needs to learn how to work within the rules of school- so far it's worked well, there have been hiccups, but we are now considering getting her off her medication.

    He's making As and Bs, concentrate on getting him healthy, worry about school later. If he does take a serious downturn, ask your psychiatrist and therapist who would be best to go to. I know many parents of kids with anxiety who never tell school. My D now advocates for herself, she has a few triggers and went and talked with a teacher about a topic that was coming up that sets her off. She knew she couldn't avoid things, but sharing her issue made it a little easier to be in the room. We have tried hard over the years to not let her avoid the things she has anxiety with and we have seen her learn to cope- not get over it, but cope.

    Your son is old enough to know what he wants to share, I think you are smart not to push. You are not alone, there are so many kids that have anxiety and depression- sometimes they seem like the norm. If you have friends you trust to talk about this, sometimes they can be the best sources of information and support.
  • cakeisgreatcakeisgreat Registered User Posts: 673 Member
    Age 15 was tough but D now almost age 17 and SO much progress. Lots of listening and patience, but I think it was maturity that helped a lot. What a journey!
  • redfraggleredfraggle Registered User Posts: 27 Junior Member
    I don't want to reveal too much, because S20 is doing really well now and it's his business, but his Soph. year was rough. No, *more* than rough. He tried to commit suicide, ended up inpatient, and then spent several months recovering. We had to let the school know, but I recommend you do. Our guidance counselor was a wealth of information and fantastic. Plus, when he goes to apply to colleges, the counselor will be able to speak to his dip in grades.

    S20 is on Zoloft, a very low dose, but between that and intense therapy, he's back. He had gradually pulled away and it was hard, in the moment, to realize what was happening. Hindsight is 20/20 and I totally see it now, but I can't blame myself. He did it so gradually that it just seemed like a surly teen thing.

    Anyway, let your child heal. This is an illness, like any others. It takes time. The path is not always straight and perfect. S20 had Home and Hospital tutoring for a full semester of grades before he felt like he could return to school. He did not end on an AMAZING note, but his grades are fantastic now and he is bringing that GPA up. It can happen. For now, worry about the ball and keeping it in play, not about the future, the goals/dreams about the future, just the now. Things will get better, but just like with any illness, there needs to be time and healing and rest.
  • travelfamilytravelfamily Registered User Posts: 137 Junior Member
    @BSL1199 So sorry to hear your son and family struggles. We have a similar situation with my daughter. Different medication but definitely took a few weeks to see changes. And there are side effects so we are still in the process of making sure we have the right meds for her. Therapy as well. It’s been a year so far of therapy and about 6 months of meds and she is a different person - in a great way. Currently a HS junior. As far as college stuff goes- I would just put it on pause for a little while- no need to add stress. Also, we’ve added in colleges to her list that are close to home. That way if it seems better for her to be close to home/ therapist, etc... she will have that option.
    We told the school nurse she was on medication via the school health form at the beginning of the year. It will get better. Hugs!
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,176 Senior Member
    edited February 5
    If he is under 18, you can talk to the school yourself. You can even have a 504 meeting. It is very helpful for the school to know.

    Unfortunately teens see anxiety and depression as weakness.

    It may be that the Prozac will work and things will improve and make this a moot point.


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