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Depressed teen up all night on social media

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Depressed teen up all night on social media

Casual scribe

Depressed teen up all night on social media

My 14yr old daughter has not attended school at all since May this year due to anxiety and depression - she rarely leaves the house, or her room for that matter!  We have really struggled to get support and a year on from being referred are still waiting a psychiatric assessment with CAMHS.  She is now attending private counselling and seems to have bonded with her counsellor but it's early days.

We have all the problems that many on this forum are reporting - bouts of self harming, binge eating, violent outbursts, withdrawal's been an emotional rollercoaster!! but one of the main issues that is not helping her mental health at the moment is the fact that she is up all night - often not going to bed till 6am!

She keeps her phone with her all night as says its her security blanket (as she can chat to friends when feeling anxious) - although it feels like it goes against instincts to let her have it we were advised by mentors, counsellors and CAMHS to not restrict it at the moment as we will be taking away her support network and they feared how she would react if we restricted it.

The trouble is that now she has an online 'boyfriend' who lives in USA (we are in UK) - he is older (20) and works so she starts chatting to him at 1am our time when he gets home from work - hence staying up till early hours!

Now this is where it's tricky - putting aside the fact that he is older and the obvious concerns around that - he has given her a bit of positivity and she's starting to look after herself a bit more (interested in clothes, hair etc) whereas before she really didn't.  She clearly feels she has found a soulmate (it seems he too suffers from anxiety and although 20 seems to emotionally be younger).  However, clearly staying up till 6am every night is doing nothing for her mental health - she then sleeps pretty much all day ruling out any chance to socialise, get exercise, fresh air or do any schooling etc...this has been going on for nearly 2 months now.

I've tried reasoning with her, coming up with compromises (go to bed early and get up early to catch him before work) but nothing works..I think she is loathe to change anything for fear of losing him.  .it's getting to point where I feel maybe my only option is to take a couple of months off work...cut off internet at night and then be on hand to deal with the consequences...and boy will there be consequences.  Or do I just ride it out and hope that the relationship fizzles out.

Has anyone had anything similar and advice for how to handle please, am tearing my hair out and feel clueless about what to try next?



Star contributor

Re: Depressed teen up all night on social media

Hi @WorriedMum1, Welcome to the community, we are so glad that you've managed to find us here at ReachOut. 

It sounds like your daughter is going through a really tough time at the moment, and you are doing a really great job to try and support her through this. It can be really difficult in these sort of situations, as it can be hard to know what to do. Maybe it could help to talk to your daughter's mental health professionals about the situation, particularly about how it's impacting her sleeping patterns, as well as the age gap between her and her boyfriend. By knowing this, maybe everyone can reevaluate the situation and what's the best next step forward. 

Just as a heads up, ReachOut parents is primarily aimed at parents of children between the ages of 12-18 living in Australia. I've noticed that you've written that both you an your daughter are in the UK at the moment, so just be aware that a lot of our resources are focused on Australian users. 


We are glad that you've come to the forums to ask for help! I'm just going to tag a couple of other parents, who might be able to give their own point of view or advice for the issue Smiley Happy 

@sunflowermom @ihavefailed @Bestapproach @Dad4good


Casual scribe

Re: Depressed teen up all night on social media

Thanks @TOM-RO, I have mentioned it to her counsellor but they haven't really been able to give any guidance unfortunately..other than sleep is really important!  I know that I need to get my daughter on side with this if if we are going to tackle it but its hard when she has zero motivation.

Thanks for heads up - yes I realised you are based in Australia but it was the best resource I found for teen issues...and the issues seem to be pretty universal :-)

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Depressed teen up all night on social media

Hi @WorriedMum1

I can really feel your concern.  My daughter will sometimes choose to stay up all night on her phone as well.  During school time she still has to attend  school but the consequences of being tired don't seem to do the trick.  There have been times when her phone was taken from her or internet turned off at night.  We use that punishment only as a last resort.  

I cringe at my daughter's online relationships because they hinder her from developing what I perceive as real face to face relationships.  But I know to our teens they feel completely real.  I am also nervous when they "break up"  my daughter never takes it well and has very little self esteem.

Is it possible to talk to your daughter about a compromise- like Monday thru Thursday she is only up for a couple hours but on the weekends where it doesn't interfere with school she can stay on.  Just a thought.

Its a tough struggle- They are so dependent  on the cell phone but if you can get her to break away just a little they seem so much better off.