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Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

Casual scribe

Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

My daughter is 19. She has dropped out of her first year of university for the second year in a row. Last year she started and everything was going well until Covid hit and everything went online. She became increasingly isolated and rarely comes out of her room. I can't even get her to sit on the deck and take in some sun. She is depressed and cannot find motivation to do anything. She has dropped out of uni this year before classes begin. She refuses to come to a GP or psychologist for help and believes everything is hopeless and refuses to consider any steps no matter how small. She is extremely rigid in her beliefs.

Her history includes an anorexia diagnosis at 11 and several hospitalisations through subsequent years. She left school but later completed senior at a school which provides students with educational units aimed at achieving university entrance. She had her ups and downs, but ended up doing really well. That was when she started uni last year (pre-Covid).

She is increasingly restrictive in her eating, and is losing weight. I'm very very very worried and don't know how to help her. I have told her how much I love and support her no matter what she does or doesn't do, and that I only want to take away the pain she is feeling. She thinks she is worthless and cannot bear anyone to see her. What can we do?


Re: Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

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Hi @still-learning and thanks for sharing.


That sounds like an incredibly difficult situation to be going through and I can hear that you're feeling quite concerned, which is fair enough. It's difficult when our young ones refuse professional support, and it does leave us feeling quite helpless as parents. 

It sounds like a decline in her mental health state was spurred on by isolation and COVID - is that correct?

Has mental health treatment been helpful for her in the past?


I guess at this point, all you can do is continue to support her and monitor her. If mental health treatment has been helpful for her in the past, you might want to remind her of that.

Scheduling pleasant activities for yourself and her to do together might also be helpful for her, as this has been shown to help with depression.

It might also be an idea to get in contact with her past professional supports, to see if they have any advice on how to best handle the situation, given that they would know her quite well.


It's also important that you look after yourself as going through what you are can be very stressful, and take a toll on you.

ReachOut Parents One-on-One Support is a free service for parents/carers of 12 to 18-year-olds and includes up to four sessions with a professional experienced in supporting families. You can learn more about this service here. I know you said your daughter is 19 but it still might be worth registering your interest with this service.

Additionally, a really good resource for parents is Parentline, as they offer free and confidential counselling and support to parents and carers on any parenting issues they may be facing. The number for Parentline differs per state. Scroll to the bottom of this page to see which number to call if you're interested. I believe that this service is targeted towards parents of children from birth to 18-years-old, but it still might be worth giving them a call to see if they can provide you with some advice.

Alternatively, booking in with your own private psychologist might be an option, ideally one with some knowledge in the area of parenting and anorexia.


Wishing you all the best and keep us updated!

Casual scribe

Re: Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

Thanks so much for your response. It feels like we're drowning here and it's just helpful to have some contact and perspective. I think you're right in that all we can do at the moment is give unconditional love and support and remove any sort of pressure. We believe that the issue is crippling anxiety, although she sees it as depression and it may well be causing depression. However, labels are of minimal help.

Our goal is to be here to support and scaffold her with the eventual aim of socialisation, whether that is in the form of ongoing education, work, volunteering or anything else. I feel like my heart is in my boots and every day is scary, so I will try your one-on-one service and maybe see someone to help me be the best support to her that I can.

Thank you again for your site. It's invaluable.


Re: Severe depression, refusal to leave room or accept help

Hello @still-learning, so glad to hear that you have been supporting your daughter through these tough times. I am sorry that you feel like you are drowning, it does sound like things are stressful for you.  It's great that you have a goal in mind for helping your daughter, you sound like a very caring and supportive parent and I'm sure your daughter appreciates your help. I hope that things get better for your family soon Heart

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