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When do I hospitalize my son?

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When do I hospitalize my son?

My son is 14 and has had problems with anxiety pretty much his whole life.  He's been in and out of counseling and was on medication for a while.  He's finishing up the 8th grade and the idea of going to high school has really pushed him over the edge.  He won't get out of bed at least 1-2 times a week, quit his basketball team, doesn't want to do anything.  He is in counseling and he has an appointment with a psychiatrist in a week, but I am so concerned about his anxiety, anger and depression. Any little thing that goes wrong, like losing a round in a video game, set of his anger. He throws things and slams doors.  He hasn't harmed himself yet, but I fear it is around the corner.  He wakes me up 2-3 times a night crying or just wants me to come hang out with him. I feel like he might need to be hospitalized so we can get on top of this.  When I type it out, it doesn't seem so bad, but every day, every minute is a struggle.  Has anyone else had to hospitalize their teen?  What was the final straw? Thanks.

Prolific scribe

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

Hey HM911,

I am so sorry to hear how bad things are for your precious young son. And I know how bad it makes you feel to have to go through it with him. I was wondering if he is on any medication and if so, which ones? Some meds can actually cause depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts so its important that youre aware. Secondly, does your town have an adolescent mental health unit? In my experience as a mental health nurse, I see way too often that young people end up worse being in a hospital environment thats not conducive to their age group ... its very scary for them and if its not a good fit, he will only fret for you...especially if hes anxious. If I were in your situation meds and hospital would only be called for when hes feeling suicidal. You have everything within you to help him. If hes coming to you, he needs YOU! Perhaps he feels like hes broken and having therapists put him under the spotlight making him feel like he has issues may make him feel pretty low. Its so hard to tell if its hormones too... please keep in touch..but while hes still reaching out to you, you have the chance to love him and listen. In hospital, he might see the doctors once or twice a week and otherwise just be pumped with meds and left to his own devices. 

Prolific scribe

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

As well as what I wrote below, is there a chance he would be interested in homeschool?
Star contributor

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

@HM911 I am so sorry to hear about your son's anger and the door slamming etc. It sounds like he is going through a really hard time himself internally, it must be incredibly heartbreaking. He's having issues in the night as well which means his sleep pattern is breaking up. There's no cause for this, anything that may have happened? Significant changes? The counsellors haven't recommended the next step for you as yet? I hope our members can provide you with some further feedback regarding when to hospitalize, I guess it comes down to what works for your family and your son. Heart We're here to listen. 

Active scribe

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

Hi HM911, you must be exhausted worrying about your son, many broken nights sleep and being by his side supporting him all the way? Do you get some breaks to help recharge your batteries? Do you have support in your family and friends to help give you some respite?
Super star contributor

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

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Hey @HM911, welcome to the forum, and thank you for sharing with us. I really empathise with you and your son. 


It's so difficult seeing our kids struggling and I completely get that strong desire to hospitalise and get some intensive treatment for them when they're so unwell. It feels like the logical decision, however I've never been successful in my pushes for it, for the same reasons @hippychick mentioned. It's great that you have an appointment next week with a psychiatrist and they'll be able to give you their thoughts around the pro's and con's of an admission.


You sound like such a loving and available parent which is giving your son way more than you may realise. Anger is such a confronting and draining emotion to feel and to be around, and your sleep is disrupted along with his, and I'm wondering what you do to take care of you? Taking care of us helps us best support our kids through their tough times, but we're often the last ones we think of. 


No biggie, but I just edited your post to keep in line with the community guidelines, as we can't discuss medication details. I hope you don't mind!



Prolific scribe

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

Hi @HM911


My boy went into hospital for depression and suicidal ideation when he was 14, twice. As a parent its a huge shock to realise that's what he needs, at least it was for me. He was withdrawn and spent a lot of time in bed, as does your son. He also got angry (I really cut down his violent video game watching. It helped too).


Both hospital stays were voluntary, and he really wanted to go in to keep himself safe. That was the key for me I guess: he wanted/needed to go himself. I would say both times had some benefit, apart from the short term gain of keeping him safe for a few weeks. He got concentrated attention and treatment, and the last time he came out with a new set of meds (better, but not perfect).


However it is a short term fix. If your son goes in don't expect him to come out fully fixed. It also isolates him from his peers and the real world, which is undesirable. There is also a stigma attached to being in a mental ward (even in our somewhat enlightened age). Teens can be very cruel, and my son (and yours too) are vulnerable souls.


For that reason I kept my son at home as much as possible, doing normal things as much as possible, trying to go to school and trying to stay connected with his mates. His school was pushing for a long stay in hospital (months) but nobody else thought that was a good plan (they wanted him out of their hair, I suspect).


One advantage of hospital is that it gives you a break, although I continued to be anxious even when he was in hospital.


He is now 15, attending school everyday, enjoying time with his mates, and doing very well on his current meds. Smiley Happy I hope you can get there too.





Star contributor

Re: When do I hospitalize my son?

Hi @HM911 sorry to hear about the struggles your son is going through and the stress and heartbreak you are experiencing. It is painful to see your kids hurting so much.  When my daughters depression was at its worst she was admitted to hospital on two separate occasions when we were concerned for her safety. Her first stay in hospital was in an adult ward (she was only 16 years old at the time) She rang me that night crying that she wanted to come home.  My heart was breaking.... I knew it was not the most ideal environment for her, but I knew she had to stay - for her safety as well as my peace of mind.  We managed to get her into an adolescent ward for her second stay in hospital, which was much more suited for her.  


Although, It is challenging and difficult coping with the anger and the tantrums, it sounds like you have a close relationship with your son and it is of great comfort to your son to have you close by. 


You mentioned your son was on medication. Discuss with the psychiatrist your options in regards to medication and hospitalisation.  You may be able to receive the right treatment without the need for a hospital admission.  A hospital stay will come with its own stresses and challenges, so best to get advice from your health professionals about how the hospitals can help.  Although, if you are ever concerned for your sons safety do not hesitate to take him to hospital.  


One thing I would recommend, is making sure that you look after yourself - the one thing I did not do!

I would have been a better person and parent if I got the help I needed at the time.


My daughter just turned 18. She is still on medication and has regular therapy to manage her depression, but the absolute worst is behind us, and I am grateful that our life has mostly gone back to "normal".  


Please make sure to take care of yourself and continue to use the forums for support... there are many parents who have had similar experiences here to help