14-year old with depression

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2004
14-year old with depression
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 1:53pm

Epic rant...just wondering if anyone has dealt with similar issues and what to expect in the future.

My son is 14 and was dx'd PDD-NOS when he was about 9. He has a lot of anxiety and can be very negative. He's been on meds since his dx. Anger is the only emotion he fully understands. Lately he has been very depressed and has been refusing to attend school since before spring break.

At first I thought his depression was related to not having friends to connect with but now maybe I am seeing it could be more about being a square peg everyone is trying to jam into a round hole. Because he is so high functioning it has been hard for teachers and even we as parents to remember he is not like most kids.

I think he has spent a lot of energy trying to fit in and he is simply exhausted by it. The last week has been particularly bad. Whenever any conflict arises it comes to "It's your fault I was born. I just want to be dead." Even though I don't think he would ever try to fatally harm himself, we spent a night in the ER last week after he yelled these things to me for an hour during a car-ride home from his social skills therapy. Result was they prescribed tranquilizers until they could see him a week later in child psychiatry. Tuesday he had an appointment with the Intensive Outpatient Program psychologist.

It's to the point where we are afraid to deny any request or bring up anything undesirable because it turns into a lengthy screaming match where he bullies me to essentially make things better or end his life for him. He doesn't understand it can't be fixed immediately. In a way he doesn't even know what he is depressed about, he just says "everything."

So basically he is just sitting around the house watching videos and playing computer games. This morning was a big argument about him getting out to get some exercise.

Making things worse is I think the Regional Center, which pays for his therapy, has decided to discontinue their relationship with his therapy group. I'm waiting to hear back from the case worker. And our HMO offers very limited therapy. Regardless, since Jonah is unaware of what his problems are, I don't think he is getting much out of the therapy anyway. He is present but not engaged in the process.

So what do we do?

Truthfully, I am getting a little burned out being his primary social contact. He still has very child-like interests and an immature way of interacting, much like a pre-schooler. "What do think of this? Look at this." He speaks every thought that comes to mind and constantly asks me what I just laughed about, stuff like that. I feel like a monster just saying these things. But it's wearing me out. I'm not saying he never spends time alone entertaining himself...but he often bullies me to provide him with something to do (usually after I have said no to computer or another preferred activity.) And as I said, I have been very permissive with him lately to avoid a meltdown.

DH understands the toll its taking and encourages me to get away when I can but he is frustrated with the whole "let him do what he wants to keep him calm" status.

This is one of those times when I feel like I am just hanging by a thread just trying to survive.

I know there is no easy fix but I don't see a hard one either. Jonah does not believe he needs help because he does not believe he has a problem -- the problem in his eyes is everyone else. It comes down to you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

If anyone is still reading, thanks for listening!


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-28-2008
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 3:07pm


I've been on both sides of this equation in some ways. I was a depressed 14 year old and I'm parenting an Aspie. Neither side is fun. Take care of yourself as much as you can, because you are at risk for falling into a depression as well. Self-care can go a long way to helping that.

You didn't mention if they were treating his depression or not. If he's on meds, it will take a while before they kick in, if they kick in at all. It's trial and error to find a med that works - it sucks, but that's the best they can do at this point. If he's going to get talk therapy - I recommend Cognitive Behavioral therapy as it's concrete and has been proven effective with depressives and with ASD people.

Depression is a pretty serious illness. I would treat it as such. You're not being a bad parent by 'giving in' to him, you're giving him the least stressful environment possible. Until he's stable, just do the best that you can and don't sweat it. He's sick and it will take time and treatment to get better. Encourage him to get out but don't get frustrated if he doesn't comply. Once he's on the mend, you'll see changes and life will become as easy as it is to parent an Aspie - better but not easy.

ASD people are at significant risk of developing depression because, as you noted, they are a square peg being forced into a round hole.

If you want further insight into depression email me through iVillage and I'll give you my email address. It's hard to live with someone in depression but it's hard to be in depression as well.


Andrea, mom to


Andrea, mom to

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-25-2005
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 4:44pm

My 15yo AS dd got on meds a year ago for a mood disorder. Besides being a square peg in a round hole, there are also a lot of hormonal fluctuations at this age due to puberty that can aggravate moods. It's not at all uncommon for kids with autism to also have co-morbid mood disorders.

You mentioned that dd has been refusing to go to school since spring break. Is there anything going on at school (bullying, etc) that might be affecting him? My dd had a miserable freshman year of high school, but she never told me about any of the problems (esp bullying) until the year was almost over. Instead her behavior just deteriorated and she became more depressed. Obviously you can have depression without being bullied, but sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that need to be changed for the depression to change.

You said your ds is on meds already. Is it for his anxiety, for depression or what? If it's depression meds, it may need to be increased or changed. If it's not for depression, he may need to have his meds changed in order to benefit his depression, too.

With my dd, there was a huge positive change in her moodiness once she got on meds. We still have typical ornery teen moments, but nothing like what it was before she got on meds (walking on eggshells; allowing poor behavior just to avoid worse behavior).

Dd therapy has definitely benefited her as well. The combination of the two (meds & therapy) has made dd into a much, much happier girl than she was a year ago. If therapy is at all possible for your ds, I'd work on getting it, but even if all you can do is help ds get on better meds, that should help improve life for both ds and you.

Oh, BTW, it also helped that both the doctor and the therapist explained to dd why she had to take the meds. She didn't want to do it when *I* suggested it, but she was willing to take the advice of the professionals.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-03-2006
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 5:27pm

he may not be depressed about anything in particular. it may be a chemical imbalance.

meds balanced my son's moods. then we could work on asd issues. without the meds NOTHING could be worked on. he was unapproachable. it also took a few different prescriptions before we found the right one.

the dr explained the brain using the idea of maps and geography. the synapses could not meet because of a detour ,some routes turned out to be deadends, some routes led to the wrong place. routes had to be chemically altered (meds) the dr explained it much better but you get the idea.

make sure you document his words & actions. there may be a pattern or trigger