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Question
Posted by: Worried mom | 2011/09/10

Teen cuts

I have picked up that my 15year old son is depressed and took him to see a psychologist and later learned that he has been cutting himself. He has been for 2 sessions and the therapist does agree that he is clinically depressed and that he hasn''t cut in a while (although she never told me about the cutting, I found out by myself). I asked why she didn''t tell me about the cutting and she said that she didn''t want to lose his trust. She wants to see him again instead of referring him to a psychiatrist but my son doesn''t want to go back to her or see anyone. What should I do as I am scared that he might be suicidal.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Self-Cutting is a curious behaviour ( years ago I did some fairly major research into it ), which causes alarm and confusion. It is obviously related to, but isn't the same as, suicide. But its an awfully economical way to hugely alarm other people while expressing complex inner feelings. It usually isn't about seeking to die. Its often done secretly, and the person may choose long-sleeved garments to avoid having to explain the wounds.
I would expect with a boy of 15 who is significantly depressed, that it would be wise to seek the opinion of a child psychiatrist to consider whether medication would be adviseable in trying to help the depression. Psychotherapy, especially of the Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy mode (CBT ) would be helpful for the depression and to help him learn alternative ways of expressing strong emotions without self-damage.
Continue talking with your son, making it clear that you love him and that you're concerned that he seems so distressed, and would like him to find help. Explore, if you can, why he doesn't want to return to see the psychologist - is this primarily about not wanting to talk about it or not to receive treatment from anyone, or is there some aspect of seeing her that has upset him such that he doesnt want to see HER again ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Leighanne | 2011/09/28

I started cutting when I was 15 too...it is something I have carried with me into my adult life, and last year at aged 31 had yet another bout of serious depression which saw me do this once again.
It is hard for anyone to understand, it is scary to think someone you love can actually want to hurt themselves. There is so many overwhelming feelings that go into why we do this....as a Mom now to a 4 yr old and another son on the way, I can now stand back and understand why it frightend my parents to much. I am grateful that I had parents that care and commend you for doing so much for your son! He is young, dont give up, stay on his side and no matter how scared you are, know that often this not lead to actually suicide (though it can) but is sometimes a form of " release"  . The scars I carry to cover my arms, my wrists, my top thighs...and yet I know that they are part of who I am now and though not proud of them, I am better able to understand them and what led to them being a permanent fixture .... blessings to you and your son

Reply to Leighanne
Posted by: Monique | 2011/09/10

Hi, sure, I''ll see if I can get my mail working on my phone today (no internet at home and I''m having issues setting it up on my phone) so if you don''t hear from me today you''ll definitely hear from me on Monday. But in the meantime, how long have you and his father been divorced? Does he get to see his dad often? It''s amazing that kids always manage to find something to bully about, even if it''s nonsense! If they spent so much time on schoolwork as they do bullying they''d ALL be over-achievers! Is there anyway that he can go to a counsellor at school (I don''t know if they still have the counselling during school time)? He says he won''t talk, but they have ways of making them talk. :-)

Reply to Monique
Posted by: Worried mom | 2011/09/10

Thank you for the replies. He doesn''t want to return to the therapist because he says he''s ok and he doesn''t want to talk, says he''ll clam up if I force him to go see anyone. I have picked up that the main issues are verbal bullying (he''s an overachiever) and his dad (we''re divorced). He says he feels very lonely, sad and angry (didn''t tell me any of this). He refuses to discuss anything cause I think he feels he doesn''t want to worry me and he has to protect me.
I would like to chat some more with you Monique, if that is ok with you. If it is, please email me on pushlaposh@gmail.com

Reply to Worried mom
Posted by: Monique | 2011/09/10

When I was 15 I cut myself for the very first time. My parents only found out two years later, so good for you for finding out now. If he doesn''t want to go back or see anyone, YOU have to find out why he''s so unhappy. Is it friends/ girlfriend/ school/ bullies/ schoolwork/ family/ where you live/ money, etc? Have there been any changes in your life recently (a death in the family, moved houses, etc)? He''s 15, so he''s at his second or third year at high school? What grade is he in? School can be so hard on kids.

Reply to Monique
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/09/10

Self-Cutting is a curious behaviour ( years ago I did some fairly major research into it ), which causes alarm and confusion. It is obviously related to, but isn't the same as, suicide. But its an awfully economical way to hugely alarm other people while expressing complex inner feelings. It usually isn't about seeking to die. Its often done secretly, and the person may choose long-sleeved garments to avoid having to explain the wounds.
I would expect with a boy of 15 who is significantly depressed, that it would be wise to seek the opinion of a child psychiatrist to consider whether medication would be adviseable in trying to help the depression. Psychotherapy, especially of the Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy mode (CBT ) would be helpful for the depression and to help him learn alternative ways of expressing strong emotions without self-damage.
Continue talking with your son, making it clear that you love him and that you're concerned that he seems so distressed, and would like him to find help. Explore, if you can, why he doesn't want to return to see the psychologist - is this primarily about not wanting to talk about it or not to receive treatment from anyone, or is there some aspect of seeing her that has upset him such that he doesnt want to see HER again ?

Reply to cybershrink

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