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Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Children)

Teenage Rebellion, or Something Serious?

07/06/2005

Question:

Hi, My daughter is 17 and lately she has not been herself. she hasn`t been able to sleep regularly, she can go for a month without sleep and it does not seem to bother her. she is a full time high school student and she works part time at a retail store. i`m afraid she might lose her job because she hasn`t been able to deal with working lately. she has called in sick too many times and when she does go in, she`s very irritable and snaps at anyone. If she`s not flipping out on someone, she`s extremely hyper and her boss has called me about it. I`m afraid to let her go out with anyone, even her older sister. She regularly goes out to a club on sunday nights, and i used to be okay with it because sunday nights are family nights so there are people of all ages there, and i`ve been there before and i`ve met her friends she goes with. I try to make up excuses to not let her go out, and for the most part they work. If i do let her go out, i check with her friends parents to make sure that`s where she`ll be and that i should be called if she leaves. She is generally a very energetic person and is very likeable, but lately she seems very reserved and doesn`t care what anyone else thinks. she recently cheated on her boyfriend and they broke up. when i asked what exactly happened she told me and didn`t seem to care. when i asked if she felt bad about it, she said no. She also used to be able to make friends very easily, but lately she seems to be loosing all of her good friends. Lately she has been very depressed at times, for no reason. One minute she will be happy and very social and the next she`s in her room yelling and throwing things. I also suspect she is hurting herself, because she has done it in the past when her grandmother was murdered. I believe this murder has led her to be paranoid and afraid of the dark. she told me that she wishes there was a tv in her room so that when she wants to watch it in the middle of the night when she can`t sleep, she doesn`t have to be in a dark room that doesn`t have a door she can shut. I am very worried about what is happening to her and i don`t know what the problem is. I`d like to believe that it`s just teenage rebellion, but it seems to be more than that. I would like to see what you think about this and if i should get her to see someone. Thank you so much for your time.

Answer:

These behavioral problems that your daughter is having is not "teenage rebellion" but sounds much more serious.  It may be that your daughter may be suffering from a mood disorder, perhaps depression.  I would urge you to seek help and a formal evaluation for your daughter from a mental health professional in your area. 

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Response by:

Floyd R Sallee, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati