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Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

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Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Casual scribe

Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Hi everyone, Just joined this group so appreciative of any help.


My son who is in grade 12 this year has been battling depression for the last year and a half. We are up to our 3rd psychologist over that period, and been seeing a psychiatrist for the last 6 months. Medication or any other help has not made any/little difference and he is at the point of where:

1. He has nothing to look forward to so "what's the point."

2. None of the medication has helped, he says there hasn't been one day in the last year that he has felt excited or look forward to anything. HAve tried the maximum dosage of current medication and switched again...onto our third type

3. He has now turned to vaping and drugs. The latter is becoming more of a habit as he believes that is the only thing that makes him feel better and the only thing that stops him from self-harming. When nothing else seems to be working, I can understand why he would turn this way but I know that's not the answer. Pyschiatrist has strongly recommended to stop as it will inhibit the meds from working. 

4. At the same time, he is just trying to get through grade 12,but he is doing that for everyone else not himself.

5. He is talking about self harming, and that dialog has opened with myself and my son.

6. I believe he is angry and frustrated because nothing has worked and he is getting tired of living this way.


Struggling to see a way forward here. Do we take him out of school and just focus on his health?


Thanks for listening


Frequent scribe

Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Hi @Tek1971

Thank you for sharing this with us. We're glad you're here and can talk about it with us.

I'm sorry to hear that you and your son are going through this. It sounds like you both have tried different forms of support, and are now seeking other options.

I'm wondering what your son's thoughts are on stopping school and focusing on his health. Do you think it would help to speak with him about how he feels about that?

You spoke about your son self-harming. I'm wondering if you've spoken with him about things that could help when he's feeling like self-harming? 

Thank you again for sharing. You're definitely not alone and there are many parents in the community who will be able to share similar experiences.

Casual scribe

Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Thanks for the response. Yeh I guess we are looking for different forums, as our current approach doesn't seem to be working. and he is getting desperate for some answers and would just love to see some signs of improvements.


Have since discovered he is self-medicating with drugs and am wondering if anyone else has had experience with that. A friend of his is in a similar situation and his parents have accepted the approach to self-medication (although they don't agree), but don't see any alternative as it has kept him functioning. HIs medical team ie: gp/psychologist/psychiatrist are all aware of this self-medication and are working with him to ween him off gradually whilst he works on his mental health. Where as our 'medical team' are saying , stay away from drugs as it may impact the effectiveness of other medication, and this just leads down a path with not a great outcome.


Anyone else had experience with their child self-medicating with drugs to manage their mental health?


Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Message contains a hyperlink

Hello @Tek1971 ,  I can understand how you feel like you would love to see some signs of improvement. It sounds like you care a lot about your son and that you are very supportive of him. Hopefully things will get better soon as he is seeing various professionals for support.


That seems like a difficult situation to be in. I can understand that it must be hard for you/your son to agree with your medical team's recommendations after hearing about the recommendations that your friend was given. Do you think it might be helpful for you to raise your concerns with your medical team? Could it also be helpful to involve some sort of drug counsellor for your son to get support from? They might be able to help him work towards his goals, whether that be reducing his drug use/stopping it or something else. 


Hopefully some other members of the community can jump in and share some of their experiences soon too!


I also just wanted to quickly let you know that I have edited some parts of your post to fit in with our community guidelines Smiley Happy

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Hi Tek 1971,

I'm so sorry to hear about the situation with your son. It sounds like his situation is serious and you and his medical/psychological team are pulling out all the stops. 

You mentioned that he is currently in Year 12, but you didn't mention whether you've been in lockdown and whether covid has had a big impact on him. It is such a difficult time to be in Year 12 and for so many people career options seem bleak at the moment, although I do know people who have got jobs recently so it's possible. 

My son was in this year's  cohort of year 12s and he decided to leave the day he turned 17 and there was nothing we could do to change his mind. He has a lot of anxiety and frustration has seen him have a few serious meltdowns and two trips to Emergency. He had some serious troubles towards the end of Sydney's first lockdown and he couldn't slow his thoughts down, but he's been better this time. We haven't gone down the medication pathway and he refuses to see anyone atm although I see a psychologist and an occupational therapist on his behalf and they guide me. Not everyone likes to talk about their stuff, and I guess for me what I try to do for my son and myself is to break things down into really small nibble sized pieces and to start tackling something, anything. As soon as you change anything, you change course and the further you keep walking, the wider the angle of change. I don't know if that makes sense to you. I am a visual person. Avoidance is a huge issue for so many people and just getting started can gain real momentum. I've just had a friend who has a business in the entertainment industry go back to TAFE to retrain for real estate which she did years ago due to covid and she picked up a full-time job in two weeks. She's 60 and could easily have thought she'd never compete with the young ones but she did it. My 15  daughter has had some health issues and been in hospital and she had her first shift at Maccas recently. Covid has been difficult for me being immuno-suppressed but I've used lockdown to write a series of books about WWI. 

On the other hand, there is a big difference between severe psychiatric depression and a friend of mine has struggled with that and lives with it. I guess the thing is to know whether that's what he's dealing with. Also, I think it would be a good idea to find out more about how the marijuana affects the prescription medication. That could be a serious issue. 

Above all else, I wanted to say to you that I've had dark times myself and my son has tried taking his life in front of me and I saved his life. I wanted to say that I care about what you're going through and understand there are no quick fixes  but by being prepared for the longer haul might take the pressure off. THere are different drugs they can try etc. It a very hard place but neither of you are alone. THere are others going through it. 

Take care & best wishes,


Casual scribe

Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

I would ask him if he wants to stay at school, if not he could finish yr 12 at home online.

Ask him what he would be interested in sometimes its not the social norm and that s OK


Remember children go thru stages like us in life of development. Don't tell others he is seeking counselling thats really a private issue and your child might feel even worse.


See when they do things THEY ENJOY it boosts there confidence. And if u see anything that needs a pat on the back from you as a parent, praise that. Remind him life is full of choices and whatever choice he makes you will be happy with as long as he is.



Make sure he is eating well and exercising. And be firm and CLEAR with him. 


Some like footy and some might like fishing encourage what he loves.


I would keep up counselling and just LOVE HIM for who HE IS AND WHAT HE WILL BECOME. ENCOURAGE 'HIS HAPPINESS'.



Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Any advice for parents with depressed 17 year old who is about to give up

Hello again from Birdwings,

I've been thinking more about you and your son. I don't know if you have a dog or pet of some kind, but our dogs are so good for our family's well being. I went through a rough time recently where four close friends died in a short space of time. Obviously, it was pretty hard. I have to watch the funeral of the last one via live stream and got pretty emotional at the end. My husband turned up carrying our sleeping dog (a large border collie x kelpie) and put him on my lap and said "this is a job for a dog" and also held my hand. Our daughter also has a Siamese fighting fish we called Flash. He sits beside her bed and she says he's quite attentive and interactive. She's made a connection with him anyway. 

I also on the exercise and food front. They do make quite a difference.

Best wishes,