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Topic: 20 year old son has social anxiety and depression

6 posts, 0 answered
  1. Parent
    Parent avatar
    2 posts
    8 January 2020


    My son has social anxiety and depression that he mentioned he can’t deal with anymore. He is staying in his room at Uni campus and on the odd occasion that he goes out, he quietly sits in a corner isolated and by himself and feels worse about himself after the event.

    He mentioned that he is not getting any enjoyment out of life, and that he believes he is not capable of being as happy as other people; also that he is lacking socially compared to others.

    This has been going on for a while and he has previously seen psychologists and counsellors, so he is reluctant to go down this route again, as he is sceptical of the value.

    My question is, what is the best way/s to address social anxiety? Are there perhaps psychologists that specialise in this and can facilitate getting tangible results? We live in Brisbane.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. mick90
    mick90 avatar
    1 posts
    8 January 2020 in reply to Parent


    Im 21 and have dealt with anxiety keeping me from school, work, normal social life in my teens so I might be of some help. There may be a lack of confidence in him coping in the world especially socially that hasn’t been dealt with.

    id suggest some sort of healthy outlet like exercise/gym work to encourage him to get out and do something different and if he sticks with it, that will give him some confidence. I don’t know what his lifestyle is like but sleeping 8-9 hours at a normal time, not having too many life stressors and eating good food might help him feel better too.

    Psychologists can help but they aren’t miracle workers so no one can expect a couple visits to give tangible results. At the end of the day changing and feeling better can only come from within, there has to be a drive to want to be better and stop at nothing to do all the right things, maybe some sort of social skills course/reading in his spare time and a desire to build resilience in these situations.

    i can only speak from my experience and from others I’ve seen but I hope this helps, wish you guys all the best

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Summer Rose
    Valued Contributor
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    Summer Rose avatar
    1144 posts
    8 January 2020 in reply to Parent

    Hi Parent

    Welcome to the bb forum and thank you for sharing your story.

    I have an adult daughter who has anxiety and OCD, so I understand your concern and desire to help your son. I want to reassure you that while it's frustrating, slow and tough right now, it can get better.

    Everybody's healing journey is different and unfortunately what works for one person doesn't always work for another. I would approach developing the next steps in consultation with your son's GP. It would be helpful if you could attend the appointment with your son so you could work out how best to support your son. If he is not open to this, you could prepare a list of questions for him to ask at the appointment to help him manage the conversation and ensure he comes away with helpful advice.

    If your son decides to try counselling again you could help him find the right one. I found an excellent person to help my daughter through the bb support line. The number is 1300 22 4636.

    They were able to suggest local practitioners with the right expertise and then I pre-screened three over the phone. I met with the psychologist I thought was suitable and then I introduced my daughter. I wanted to set her up for the best possible chance of success. And thankfully this approach worked.

    Keep in mind that counselling might not be the best solution. There is also a role for medication and lifestyle--and everything Mick has said makes sense to me--in treating anxiety. Finding the right solution, or combination of treatments, takes time and from my experience is best done with input from your GP.

    Kind thoughts to you and your son

  4. Parent
    Parent avatar
    2 posts
    9 January 2020

    Many thanks Mick90 and Summer Rose for your valuable inputs.

    I agree part of the problem is lack of confidence in coping in the world and especially socially, and Mick90, all your comments really resonate. He has been going to the gym and eating fairly well, but not sleeping well due to the anxiety.

    As this has been going on for years, I am wondering whether CBT may help? I don’t know much about CBT, but given that the anxiety/depression has been going on for years, and that my son has a negative outlook, I welcome views on whether CBT could assist?

    thanks in advance!

  5. Summer Rose
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Summer Rose avatar
    1144 posts
    10 January 2020 in reply to Parent

    Hi Parent

    BB has a terrific booklet entitled, What works for anxiety? and another called, What works for depression? Both are evidence-based guides and list all of the many treatment options available and the pros and cons of each. You can download these brochures from the website or you can call the support line and the staff will mail copies to you. The number is 1300 22 4636. They are both worth reading.

    To answer your specific question, CBT is a proven and effective treatment for anxiety. From my personal perspective, I know that it worked for my daughter in conjunction with medication, exercise, a good sleep routine and some diet changes. I can't understate the value of regular exercise and good sleep when managing a mental health condition. You need to be in your best possible shape to fight any illness and it really matters.

    This does not mean that CBT will necessarily work for your son--everybody is different-- but it is most definitely a treatment to consider and discuss with him and the GP.

    Hope this helps. Kind thoughts to you

    1 person found this helpful
  6. pinkwren
    pinkwren avatar
    7 posts
    22 January 2020 in reply to Parent

    Hi Parent :)

    Thank you for sharing your post! I completely agree with what Summer Rose and mick90 said about things that can help with anxiety and depression - CBT is definitely an option that really helps and works for so many people, including myself.

    I'm sorry to hear that your son has been struggling for some time :( Having both social anxiety and depression myself, I completely understand how he must feel, and how hard it is to be motivated when you are so weighed down by your own thoughts, so I'd thought I'd share what has helped me the most, in hope that it can help him too :)

    This may sound silly or obvious, but more often than not, the best thing for someone to do (and for me to do) when their depression really hits hard is to actually be with other people, when all they want to do it be alone. I find that this is a great way for me to be around the people I love ad feel comfortable wit, who I know will boost my mood and make me feel better. Like mick90 said, exercising is another really good way to handle mental illness, and I have found is be helpful in managing my depression.

    In regards to social anxiety, it is difficult to overcome, but CBT and 'exposure' therapy is very effective in treating social anxiety, as it continually exposes the person to the situations that make them anxious, and over time, their anxiety will decrease. I know that depression and social anxiety plays a huge role in the interference of sleep (particularly social anxiety), and from personal experience, sometimes makes it nearly impossible to sleep and silence the thoughts and social worries. I have found medication to be extremely helpful in managing this and improving my sleep, as well as improving my social anxiety and depression dramatically - along with CBT, it has personally been the most effective treatment for my mental health.

    With that being said, medication may not be the best treatment for your son, and like Summer Rose said, CBT may not be either, however it has been such a positive turning point in so many people's lives when dealing with their mental health. There are so many other treatments available that may also help your son, but it is important to remind him to be kind to himself and know that he is never alone.

    Hope this was helpful :)

    Take care - hope you're well xx

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