Anxiety & Depression in Young Adults

Parent Q&A

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  • Clinically depressed recent college grad

    (4 replies)

    I’m seeking advice for how best to support my son. He has been rocked in the last couple years by a life-altering medical diagnosis, the divorce of his parents, and most recently, graduation from college. As an ADHD kid with executive function challenges and some social skills deficits, he has always struggled with transitions but this is next level. 
    He tried working with a therapist but gave up when it was not a good fit and didn’t pursue the search further. He doesn’t live in the area so I’m at a loss as to how to help him connect with a good therapist. In the meantime, he’s self medicating with weed. I get the sense he doesn’t have much going socially. He’s managing to hold down a low-paying job but can’t manage a career-oriented job search. He is so unhappy I’m worried about the possibility of self harm. What to do??

    I’m so sorry! This happened in our family and here’s what I wish we had done:

    I wish we had seriously prioritized my nephew’s mental health over our family’s expectations about his post-college independence and future job prospects. This would have meant taking FMLA (family leave from work) flying to where he was and spending time with him — just to be there. Not to insist he get a therapist or a better job or stop using weed, but showing him how important he is to us and that we care enough to stop what we are doing to be with him in this difficult time. 
    I realize this plan probably sounds unrealistic but think about what you would do if (god forbid) he had a newly diagnosed serious physical illness or was in a car accident.
    I wish we had travelled to his city, got a nearby Airbnb and spent 2-3 hours each day going for a walk with him or playing video games or watching Netflix. Or just sitting at the table reading the newspaper! After that time spent together, I believe you would be well-positioned to help him figure out what he needs.
    in our family’s case I really think this would have prevented an increasing dependence on weed and a spiraling depression. 
    I think it’s so good that you have an awareness of what might be going on and are trying to help — good luck to you. 


    I urge you to think of this the same as you would a cancer diagnosis. What would you do to help your child? Personally, when my child had a similar experience I went there and found out they needed to come home and get intensive treatment. Are you paying for anything? If so you can write a contract for them to get treatment, and you continue to pay, if not you can really only encourage. I really do recommend rapid treatment effects for depression, such as TMS while they go on medication and get therapy. 

    I was a super high achieving HS student, who struggled with depression basically from the start of my teens. I wasn't this bad post-college, but I was struggling and I have some thoughts about what I needed at the time.  I strongly agree with avadavid -- think more expansively about what might be possible. Is it really not possible for you to take FMLA or just a leave of absence to go be with him? Can you take a week of vacation to check in on him and be present? Is there anyone else in your family who can be there for him?

    My parents, when they visited me across the country, really dug in: they bought groceries and made dinner. They fixed weird shit in my crummy apartment that shouldn't have been broken but was. They got me matching mugs. Did my laundry. Bought me a nice blanket.

    They sent my brother for a two week visit. He was an undergrad at the time, I think, but he went out and bought me some basic necessities that made a huge difference, and he was just there, being kind to me.

    So I guess what I'm saying is: don't under estimate the power of just being there and helping get his environment together. Don't push conversations that he isn't ready to have, do clean out his cupboards and restock them.

    That's a lot for anyone, much less a neurodiverse young adult, to manage. I'm sorry, my heart goes out to him, and to you.

    I also have a neurodiverse young adult with complicated things going on in their life who began self-medicating with cannabis years ago and has had a full-blow cannabis use disorder for a while now. I suggest you look into The Invitation to Change. This is a relatively new support program based on science and kindness that builds on decades of research and practice. The program offers understanding and tools to help us navigate a healthy relationship with our loved ones while motivating them to change. I wish it would have been around and I'd had know about it when my child was beginning to struggle. What I've learned through the program not only helps me navigate the situation with my child, but life in general as it's based on behavioral science.

    Full disclosure, the program has been so helpful to me that I became a certified trainer (i.e., group facilitator). Feel free to reach out to me directly if you'd like to know more about the program.

    Take care of yourself, and I wish you and your son well.

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  • Seeking guidance and recommendations for diagnosis and treatment for my daughter, who just turned 18. She suffers from generalized anxiety, social anxiety, some periods of selective mutism and overall emotional dysregulation (very strong emotions, some obsessive thoughts, lots of difficulty with decisions, among other things). I’ve suspected she might be on the spectrum, although her pediatrician had dismissed it, but after learning how it presents differently in females, it's been in the back of my mind. Because of her anxiety, she had refused diagnosis or treatment, but she is finally ready, but now we`re in the  challenging process of figuring out where to go next, and having a hard time exploring our options. I would love advice or guidance with: 

    • What kind of assessment/evaluation and type of specialist should I look for (psychiatrist, neuropsychologist, developmental pediatrician, although she’s an adult now?)
    • Do you have recommendations of a great provider who can do a comprehensive assessment? Any that take insurance (Blue Shield/Magellan)?  The long list of providers on their website is not very helpful. Since it’s open enrollment season for health insurance, I’ve considered switching to Kaiser just for this purpose, but I'm not really sure if it makes a difference. Have you had a good experience with Kaiser in terms of evaluation/assessment? Is it worth exploring this option? 
    • Do you know any providers who are knowledgeable in the female autism spectrum? Should that even be my priority when searching? 

    Any advice is welcome and much appreciated. 

    Havinvg a slightly younger, AFAB autistic teen that had similar anxieties but was only diagnosed autistic when they entered middle school:

    For spectrum evaluation, a neuropsych that has experience with AFAB autistics is best. We literally called everyone with availability, and went with those that we felt best about when we called. I don’t think we, as non-professionals, have any other way to evaluate medical staff. I lack the the knowledge for an objective evaluation, so all I have is subjective one. 

    As for Kaiser: after many years with them, and being very satisfied with their service (as much as one can be satisfied with such a provider…), we moved to PPO after we found Kaiser’s support for autistic and ND children severely lacking. I hate everything with the current insurer we have, but at least they provide and cover some services our autistic child needs. 

    Our child's anxiety was exacerbated, it seems, at the Summit Center, so I would not recommend them at all. CBT/DBT/family systems therapy--all these things might help more than going to Summit.  (I thought they were anxiety/worry experts but for our kid it was harmful, we didn't even know not to try to reason with him when he went into a spin ruminating...we'd patiently discuss with him at all hours, for hours, and we later learned that was not helpful to him!) There is so much disagreement in these fields, it seems, it would be good to keep a close eye on whatever people suggest as some will try to just throw drugs at your kid--they have a hammer and every kid is a nail.


    I look forward to reading the responses to your question. What I have seen helpful with kids, young adults, with selective mutism is horseback riding. Something about it helps with staying connected to the body and Im sure many more things. Kaisers mental health treatment is mainly medication. It's tough getting an appointment and when you do it may or may not be helpful.  When it was requested in our family we tried our Kaiser insurance first and then went private.   I believe that Kaiser has a treatment center in Fremont for the evaluation/treatment  of Autism, a parent sued Kaiser ages ago for treatment for Autism.

     Id also check if she has any sleep issues. People who dont get deep sleep end up with anxiety, depression...

    I wish I could be more helpful. We are also big fans of the find out what they can do and support that.

  • Hi BPN Community - My 22 year old kind, sensitive niece has been dealing with depression, OCD, anxiety and childhood traumas (really bad parent divorce, unreliable parents) for most of her life. Since graduating from college during the pandemic, she has become extremely depressed, especially as the people she's close to start to move on with new jobs in new cities or college/grad school. She says she doesn't want to commit suicide, but she also can't find anything in life to get her out of bed each day. She feels untethered and no hope for any positive progress. Her therapist (with my niece's permission) told me that her once/week therapy sessions are not enough and that she needs an intensive outpatient program, a partial hospitalization program or a residential program. She recommended the Rogers Behaviorial Health Center. Does anyone have experience with this program? I would love to hear from others who themselves or have teens/adult children who have faced similar mental health issues. What programs, therapists, etc. did you find helpful to you? Residential programs scare me, because I don't know how to find a really reputable and helpful one, but there must be some good ones out there. Thanks for any advice. 

    What a challenging situation. How fortunate you are there to provide a safe support for your niece.

    I cannot speak to Rogers directly. Consider reaching out to the folks at Willows in the Wind. They have deep knowledge of various programs and can lend you support while you support your niece.

    Take care and I wish you both calm, safety, and relief.

    My daughter has the same diagnoses, as well as ADHD. She's done a Partial Hospitalization Program through Seneca (specifically Priya STEP in Petaluma but they have programs through out the Bay Area.) It's a good program and they have a psychiatrist that will also review medications, etc.  We were referred to the program by Kaiser. 

    A program like this alone will not be enough. You don't mention if she's on medication but if not I can't recommend enough going that route as well. While not a "fix," medication for depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. has definitely alleviated symptoms. One part of my daughter's issues was insufficient sleep, which made everything worse and is common part of ADHD as the an ADHD brain has a hard time turning off to rest. Within a week of starting a sleep medication (Trazadone) we saw improvements, or at least more stamina to cope with therapy, life, etc. 

    Also, per the recommendation of her Kaiser therapist and psychiatrist we've switched from the CBT therapy that Kaiser offers to a private DBT therapist which is supposed to be better for her conditions. Apparently DBT is most effective in a group setting, so we hope to start that soon. Lastly, if the trauma isn't addressed recovery will be difficult. My daughter has started doing EMDR therapy with her DBT therapist who also specializes in that type of trauma work. My daughter also tried OCD therapy but it was right before the pandemic so doing exposure therapy over the phone was not effective. We plan to do that again at some point when she's improved from the depression and anxiety. It's only about 10 sessions so not a long term treatment. 

    Good luck and best wishes

    My adult son with OCD went to Rogers Hospital in WI for residential Tx 7 years ago. It was not scary for him or me. They do understand OCD which many providers claim they do, but don’t. He was there for 6 weeks when private insurance pulled the plug despite filing appeals. I would recommend it though it wasn’t perfect. I don’t know about their programs in the Bay Area but they are an experienced, reputable provider. 

    I'm sorry to hear that your niece is dealing with all of this, it's hard for her and for the whole family. My daughter tried Rogers residential and their PHP and had a terrible experience there though most people do well. There are also IOPs, which stand for Intensive Outpatient Programs. It's based on ERP treatment, which works for many people - however my daughter was not one of them. There are also IOPs, which stand for Intensive Outpatient Programs. There are multiple paths to try ERP, ACT, DBT, TMS, medication management, so it takes some exploring to figure out which is the best next step for your family member. There are wonderful family support groups out there for OCD and you may get some info there. I wish you the best.

  • I am hoping to get the name of an excellent therapist who would work well with my adult son who is depressed.  

    Thank you for any help!

    Liz Walser was the technician that diagnosed my daughter with severe depression. She eventually became my daughter's therapist and I cannot speak highly enough about what an amazing person and therapist Liz is. She's raised sons so don't let her being female dissuade you from reaching out to her. Her expertise is beyond all therapists we had to suffer through to find the right person. My daughter ended up going back to her while at college after seeing another therapist that wasn't helping her the way Liz did. Liz helps my daughter stay the course unlike any other therapist (and there were lots!).

    Best of luck to you and your son.

  • Looking for a new approach to treat anxiety

    (5 replies)

    I am looking for recommendations for my beautiful, smart daughter, 21, who has been struggling with anxiety/depression for about 4 years now. When it began, she was a college freshman away from home, and from that point on, endured a variety of unsuccessful therapies and anti-depressants (with terrible side effects). After two years, she went to a residential therapy program where they treated her for “inability to manage distress” as well as other social-related conditions. At that time, they determined that her struggles were related more to distress and anxiety (resulting in depression) than the other way around. She came out of that program a stronger person, with a plan, and then COVID-19 hit. She is now going to a local school and living on campus, but her mental state has been deteriorating with time. Unfortunately, when she came back from the program, she continued to see the therapist she had been with before she left, and almost every time, she comes back in a state of depression/anxiety. (Not exactly the result we are looking for.) At this point, she is really struggling and she is 1) extremely distrustful of anyone in the business of therapy/psychiatry because “nothing has worked”, and 2) convinced that something is truly wrong with her brain. Of course there is so much more, but I'm just wondering if this resonates with anyone else and if you have recommendations. The last thing I want to do is set her up for another failure so I'm trying to think out of the box a bit. At the very least find someone who will build her up and help her to feel strong. 

    My daughter is 22 and was diagnose with 3 forms of anxiety  along with depression and panic disorder at age 16.  She started therapy and meds at age 16 and had to experiment with several in the coming years.  At age 22 she is now on a cocktail of three combined meds that have greatly helped her.  While she still has her issues, we work with her closely along with her therapist to ensure she has a very support based environment.   She changed therapists a couple of times to find the right one for her and that is working.  Your daughter may have to do the same and be prepared to assist with that journey.   This is a journey, there are no quick fixes and for every step forward, there are several back.  Nothing is wrong with her brain as it were.  My kid is in the process of graduating college, has a full time job, a boyfriend and a very close friends who understand her and they created a support system for each other.  I would recommend  Laura Compton (925) 299-9033.  She is younger and relates really well with this age group.  I have watched my child bloom in the recent months and that is after a few failures in therapy with people who could not relate to her struggles.    Your daughter CAN be successful.  It can be a struggle to get there, but with a good support system, she can do it.  If my kid can, so can yours.  My kid was a wreck and to see her now is like night and day.  She has her good and bad days.  I make sure I am there for both.  I am what you might call the bad cop in the parenting end so to have my kid come to me for advice is a miracle.  Best of luck to you.  

    Perhaps a skill based approach would help? Breaking it down into skills is a positive, empowering way to view growth and  development. Teens into 20’s is a time fraught with so many challenges- having issues does not mean your daughter is in any way broken or defective. Life brings about demands on a person, and in times of pandemic, none of us is fully  prepared to deal with what arises. Building skills in life areas provides a sense of “ I can do this”. Defining what to work on is key for helping anyone forge a path to better living.

    this is a good workbook as an introduction to DBT. Reasonably priced, not at all pathologizing of people’s struggles, but does work for most everyone over a wide range of issues. Worth considering...



    I'm so sorry your daughter is suffering and feeling so discouraged. Unfortunately, I don't think it's uncommon to experience professional therapeutic help that's ineffective at best, and harmful at worst. Fit is everything, and it's worth it to keep looking until you find someone who can accurately understand, connect with, and effectively help your daughter. I would highly recommend contacting Dr. Amy Berlin, MD, in Berkeley: ‭(415) 820-1588. After decades of also experiencing that "nothing has worked," it felt like a miracle to find Dr. Berlin. She's a real person in the therapy relationship (not a therapist persona), is kind, compassionate, and incredibly clear and insightful. She listens well, inspires confidence and is able to build trust. I'm not sure if she's taking new patients right now, but if she's not, she could direct you to a trusted colleague. Please tell your daughter not to lose hope! There is good help out there.

    I think there are several avenues to try. !. Exercise. She should be really breathing hard at least once a day. Just a fast walk can probably do it. But running, bike riding, or whatever works for her are all good. 2. Nature. Spend time in a green environment such as an urban or regional park.  Just forest bathing is good, but walking and running are good too. 3. Meditation. Takes a lot of discipline, but this one really pays off. 4. Reduce exposure to toxins. Get fragrance-free laundry detergent, dish detergent, shampoo, and personal care products. Get rid of cleaners such as bleach, ammonia, 409, etc. Usually you need little more than water to clean; maybe some detergent for anything oily or greasy and maybe some baking soda for an abrasive. The other cleaners are counter-productive. New paint and new carpet can also be toxic. Open windows if the air quality is good outside. Stop burning wood, wearing fragrances, and using air fresheners. It will take a few weeks for her to clear the toxins from her system. Improvement should be subtle but clear. I hope these suggestions work. Use google for more info about them. Good luck. 

    I have been on a journey to manage my depression and anxiety since I was your daughter’s age and really, traditional therapy and Meds helped stabilize but didn’t heal me. For the last few years I have been with Family Matters of Marin. They use a mix of more progressive modalities and I can feel major internal shifts. The modalities include Internal Family Systems, EMDR, trauma informed therapy, mindfulness. I have benefited from identifying anxiety as an internal part that has a purpose vs describing myself as anxious. My therapist works with a group in the East Bay as well, training folks in these modalities. I believe this includes Rachel Walker, Colleen West. and i imagine there are more. 

  • Hi

    Has anyone tried or had any experience with TMS? Looking for help for my wonderful, depressed 25 year old son, who has treatment resistant depression.

    Thank you 


    Hi Sean,

    I did TMS with a Kaiser referral to Bay TMS in Berkeley. After six weeks of daily M-F treatments ~30-45 minutes each, I received  approval to continue for 10 weeks total. During the treatments, I wore noise reducing headphones and listened to audio meditations.

    The experience was great and my depression has since been in remission. 

    Hope this is helpful!


    Check out the
    Theta Burst TMS studies at Stanford

    A colleague of mine has had treatment-resistance depression for many years and tried TMS several months ago. Since then she has consistently said that she has never felt better. For her, it has made an enormous difference. Just an anecdote ...

    Bay TMS in downtown Berkeley is good.  It worked well for me  and they were very supportive. 

  •  Hi  Parents and  Caregivers, 

    Has anyone had any experiences with La Cheim , behavioral health services in Oakland.? 

    Still looking for help, IOP/PHP programs for my wonderful 24-year-old compassionate, depressed son who has treatment resistantr depression and anxiety. 

    Thank you,


    I'm a clinical social worker at Berkeley's psych Hospital and we refer to La Cheim regularly. They have a very experienced, knowledgeable and highly experienced staff and as I hear it from clients directly they provide excellent care and Community Building.

  • Greetings

    Has anyone had any experiences  with Partial Hospitalization programs or intensive outpatient programs:   John Muir  in Concord, Saint Helena\Adventist in Vallejo, BACA young adult outpatient program in Oakland, Alta Bates Herrick Campus. Or know of any other such  programs in East Bay Area??  Not sure of the pros and cons of each of them and which one to choose.  

    We are looking for treatment for my wonderful, compassionate 24 yr old son, who has  treatment resistant depression and anxiety and lives in Berkeley… (Alta Bates is the closest)

    He has tried so many things and is feeling so discouraged. I would welcome your input and  words of wisdom.

    Thank you,



    There is a new therapy group that just arrived in Oakland.  They are called Gateway.  They are based in Orange County.  They offer an intensive outpatient therapy treatment plan.  The treatment we received there was amazing.  Here is their contact info:

    Stay strong.  Wishing you well,

    Honey Bee

  • My friend has had worsening depression for a number of years and has been unable to stay in the college classes that he attempts, largely due to anxiety issues. He has been undergoing treatment at Kaiser, but I am wondering if there are resources available (educational psychologists? life coaches?) in the Walnut Creek area to help him specifically with being able to resume his coursework successfully. He also has manageable ADD and is LGBTQ. 

    I suggest you contact NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) division in Contra Costa and see what kind of support they can offer targeted to his needs.  (925) 465-3864.  They have services for both the mentally ill and family members.  Perhaps they have a support group appropriate to your friend (who is apparently not delusional, but in severe distress that interferes with daily functioning). Because your friend is anxious and depressed, this will be a very hard call for him.  See if you can find a name of someone who he can speak with on the phone or in person who is easy to talk with.

    Also, the right medication can make all the difference.  If your friend isn't getting relief from his current medications, encourage him to push for new meds, or even a new psychiatrist.  If that is hard for him, you can offer to advocate for him.

    A meditation class or meditation app may help; there are meditations specifically for anxiety and depression.  Belleruth Naperstek has some good CDs.  Just deep breathing will help.  Exercise probably will as well.

    Finally, just do your best to stay in touch.  Leave a message, send a funny video, go out to a movie or for coffee.  Keep it light.  You don't have to talk about his problems, it might not be even be helpful. You can't fix his feelings. But knowing that you care will help him get through it.

  • My 22 year old son is very depressed, talks of losing his will to live and is completely miserable. He just started therapy and is slated to see a psychiatrist soon.  I think that part of the problem is that he does not fit in with the "norm" of what most of his peers are doing (I.e. Post college job searching- following societal norms of acceptable next steps for a young adult.) He is wickedly smart, very creative, and  extraordinarily stubborn and he honestly feels his brain is jumbled since he thinks in such an offbeat and atypical way. He comes up with interesting ideas about a new idea for a business and that sort of thing often but he never know where to take it or how to get it off the ground

    I might be grasping at straws- as I am completely desperate for him to feel better- but The two of us were talking about finding a group of like minded, alternative thinkers- creative types, with wry humor and keen interest in politics and current events - those who do not follow the crowd but still want to live a full and happy life- just figuring out how to do it on their own terms....

    Does a group like that exist? Clubs? I have no idea as I was one of those people who happily followed life as my parents did and never questioned it much at all. I have never been depressed and in fact have quite a sunny disposition....I have another child who is much more conventional so this is all new for me.

    any advice appreciated-

    Please let me know if you start a group.  I would  like to join as i have a  young adult kid in simillar situation (working part time, but

    very withdrawn and sullen--not his usual bright outgoing happy self, for years now).  It's really tragic.  I could possibly help you start a support group depending

    on where you are (i'm in Berkeley).  Good luck.

    I think you are such a good are trying your best to support your son during this rough period of time. I remember thinking the same thing about finding my daughter a club when she was feeling very similarly last year. I desperately wanted my daughter to find her own tribe of people she could connect with. I even tried starting a group at a library for young people into the same thinking and writing.  It did t help too much though because her depression was just too deep to get that far with it.

    We ended up getting her meds, having weekly sessions with a communications focused therapist in Oakland,  having her go to the hospital for several days when things got bad enough, and then a breakthrough as meds started to kick in , we started to go to DBT at Clearwater in Oakland (she needed new skills and so did we as parents) and we started volunteering together at an animal shelter each weekend (4hours each week) to get out of the house. My daughter happens to like cats so volunteering at the SPCA in Oakland was helpful for her (and me!). We also got her a cat that she took care of which she loved. 

    A year later, things are much better and my daughter still has her ups and downs and struggles with social connections at times but we both have better coping skills and know what to do right when there is a hint of depression coming on.

    I know this is soooo hard. It sounds like you are on the right track loving him so much and searching for something that will work for him. Good luck momma! 

    I also have a 22 year-old son who, in many regards, is similar to yours, but who opted not to attend college. His passions are music and design, and he spends every single day pursuing these interests. My dream was always for him to earn a degree in a creative field and to find a satisfying job. Much of me still wants this for him; but when I see how animated and completely involved he is in what he’s doing, I am happy.  So, my recommendation is that you encourage your son to (in Joseph Campbell’s words) “follow his bliss.”  Help him pursue WHATEVER excites him and gives him joy. Our sons are young and they can figure out life’s practicalities when they must, but for as long as they are able, I believe they should be delirious with their ideas and surges of inspiration.  

  • Seeking recommendation of a CBT or other psychotherapist, who specializes in treatment of depression with young adults. Our son is a bright, thoughtful, compassionate  23 year old who has medication resistant depression. He really wants to get better and has tried numerous anti depressants alone and in combination without positive results. He has had numerous negative medication side effects, despite having had genetic testing(Gene Sight) for potential successful anti depressants. Holistic approaches, welcome.

    Please let us know if you have any recommendations. He is losing hope.

    Thank you

    I wanted to ask if you have considered a Wilderness program for him.  My son was struggling with severe depression for a few years starting at 17.  He is now 23 also.  We tried different meds, therapy, different interventions and nothing seemed to help.  Long story short, we ended up sending him to Evoke Therapy in Utah and while I was very apprehensive about this program, it ended up being the best gift we could have ever given to him.  He did therapeutic work that he never could have accomplished here at home.  Fast forward 18 months:  he is has girlfriend and is back at school full-time.   He is happy and able to express himself in ways I never thought possible.  I asked him recently what he thought had the most impact  in his life in regards to the healing process and he did not hesitate to say his time in Wilderness.  Also, his therapist here in Berkeley was dead set against  wilderness, saying that there was no way he would handle it.  Well he did, learned he could and came out knowing himself .  I suggest you give their intake people a call to discuss your situation.  Another one we liked was Open Sky.  Best of luck.  You can ask the moderator for my contact info if you want.

    I suggest getting rid of all fragrances and cleaning chemicals. Perfumes can cause depression.

    Also, lots of time outdoors in fresh air getting exercise. Open windows when inside.

    Hope this helps.

  • Parenting an anxious young adult

    (2 replies)


    I'm looking for support in being a better parent to my young adult who has issues with anxiety.  Does anyone have suggestions about resources (books, support groups etc.)  that help parents understand better how to parent anxious teens and young adults?


    The most important thing to know about anxiety is that two common approaches can actually make it worse. Those approaches are reassurance and avoiding the situation that makes you anxious. Avoiding things does reduce anxiety in the short run, but also gives your brain the message that avoidance is a good strategy -- which leads to more avoidance! There are some excellent cognitive behavioral resources (books like Mind Over Mood) and therapists who can help you find ways to gently confront the anxiety by top-notch planning, changing anxiety-producing thoughts, or in some cases by taking small steps toward the thing that makes you anxious. The cool thing is that the brain can be trained to de-stress. 

    Hello, recently went through a many-months downhill with my anxious 24 year old.  Neither of us recognized it as anxiety at the time.  Ended up with a hospitalization & got psychiatric support through Kaiser.  She is now taking Wellbutrin and life has been good and even-keeled for about 3 months.  I just wanted you to know that it could be as simple as that!  Best of luck.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


20 year son having severe anxiety and dropped out of college

Jan 2013

2 years ago I thought I would stop reading this forum because my son turned 18 and went to college out of state. I had no idea that I would posting in the teen newsletter as a parent of a 20 year old.

My son went thru some depression (hid the problem from us in the beginning) earlier this year which turned into a severe anxiety disorder (OCD). He never went to the college therapist as he didn't think they would help. He dropped out of the out-of-state 4-year college(after failing the winter and spring terms),and now refuses medication for his problem. He has severe panic attacks/OCD that stop him from going anywhere freely (he has a car), stays at home all day, doesn't want to look for a job, he wants to keep playing video games all day to keep himself calm. He has disconnected from all his friends (he had few to start with) due to the stigma, and doesn't want to exercise.

We are considering CBT therapy for him. But until then, he needs to occupy himself; we are looking for some volunteer position/ or a place for him to spend his day produtively until he can go to a local community college. We are working, immigrant parents, and at a loss how to help him become social again. He has no one to talk to the whole day. He has a severe reassurance seeking problem as well.

Looking for some advice desperately. Desperate mother

I'm so sorry your son is going through this. I'd put almost all your energy into getting him into CBT--I don't see how he can realistically do much else until he gets his anxiety under control.

To that end, I would make it mandatory that he attends CBT if he wants you to support him. Put your questions about how to occupy his time/support him to his CBT therapist. Hopefully you can find someone who will help you partner in the process, so that, for instance, you know what your son's exercises are so you can provide encouragement to him to do them and feedback to the therapist about whether it's happening.

My foster son has a variety of emotional problems, and that's what's worked best for us--finding a VERY good therapist and then getting advice and help from that person. This has been very effective. Before that, we were just struggling on our own to make meaning of the situation.

My other suggestion: contact your local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). Most counties have one; if you don't like yours, try a neighboring county. They offer a great peer support group class that's free and meets weekly (at least it used to). You will meet many other parents there. It will really help you. They have other services as well.

I personally don't think that anti-anxiety meds are all that helpful. They are habit-forming, and they do not get to the root of the problem, and I don't even think they're that effective. This was my experience when watching my ex go through anxiety that led to being home-bound. Your experience may vary.

And lastly, it takes great courage to overcome anxiety. You are asking your son to face major fears all the time. Imagine what you are afraid of (heights? tigers?) and picture yourself facing them day after day. It's hard. If he wants to heal, he will have to be brave. good luck to your family

I am sorry to hear you and your son are going through this painful time. I think that it is wonderful that you are considering CBT therapy for your son - this could help him get some traction on the depression and fear symptoms (which could make it easier for him to get back to doing more healthy, productive activities again).

One outlet for social support I wanted to recommend is through the International OCD Foundation. Under their ''Find Help'' tab, they have a list of local OCD support groups, as well as online and phone OCD support groups.

I wish you and your son well on this path to recovery. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be helpful in terms of cognitive-behavioral therapy for your son (or provide referrals for CBT folk in the area). I also work as a mental health counselor at Chabot College in Hayward and could give feedback about beginning at a community college. Best wishes, Jennifer

Depressed 20-year-old needs help finding a job

April 2008

Hi, I would like recommendations for a career counselor for a young adult (20). We need someone that has lots of resources, not just suggestions. My son has suffered from major depression since he was about 15. He is finally working with a psychiatrist that seems to be getting him on the right track. My son took the CHSPE to get out of high school and has worked some minimum wage jobs. The longest he held a job was about 14 months. This was a major achievement for him especially since he found the job on his own. However, he is now unemployed and somewhat lost as what to do with his life. He has an interest in cars and DJing. We would love to find someone that is good working with this population and is not outrageously expensive. Thanks, never stop being a parent

Don't waste your time and money with a career counselor/coach. No matter how well meaning they are, they have zero training dealing with depression and psychological issues. It wouldn't help your son, and in fact, might hurt him. It's good you have his depression under control with his psychiatrist monitoring his meds. It sounds like the next step is to find him a good psychotherapist. In due time, as your son works through his issues and starts to feel better, he will be able to make the career decisions that he can't make now. Anon

Look into WorkLink in San Francisco, They provide an employment service for people with all sorts of disabilities, and I'm guessing your son would fit within the population they serve. Their services include career counseling, job placement, and working on the transition into adulthood. They start from a positive view of the client's talents and interests, and help identify jobs and careers where the client can be happy and successful, taking into consideration their dislikes and challenges. Best of luck to you and your son. Mother of another late bloomer