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I have a 12 year old daughter. She goes to see a psychiatrist for depression and anxiety and takes online school (only going down to have actual class on Tuesdays) for the anxiety as well.

Yesterday we (me, my husband, and other two daughters) went to the mall but she didn't want to go so we let her stay (though most times we make her go with us). When we came back, she seemed really down so I asked her what's wrong. She just looked back at her phone and said, "Nothing." But I sat next to her and asked her again, she replied with the same thing but started lightly crying. I ended up letting it go after a few tries with just the same answer.

I really wish she would talk to me. What do I do?

Some things that might need to be noted:
·She has a field trip on the 28th and she said she didn't want to go though I already payed (it was only $3) and when she asked why she had to go, I just said, "Because I said so." This was a few minutes before we left
·She was put on pills, one was supposed to give her energy but when she started taking them, she was barely ever hungry so we took her off of them (but even before the pills she wouldn't eat much sometimes)
·During the time she wasn't eating (this happened a few hours before we left) It was around 2-3PM and she admitted that she didn't eat yet. Her father and I started pushing her to eat, she responded with, "But I'm not hunrgy!" and my husband raised his voice slightly and said, "I don't care!" She ended up eating (but in a 'I was forced to do this and I'm not happy' way)
 

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Are these new behaviours? I ask because they could all be explained by the depression.

Have you talked to her psychiatrist? Have they given you strategies to help you parent her through this? If not then I would suggest that you and your husband have a session together with him/her.

The crying may not be for a specific identifiable cause.

The field trip may just seem like too much effort.

And she may not feel hungry. Eating may well be because she has to and not because she wants to for quite some time.

Which of these issues you push and which you let go are best discussed with her care providers. It is very difficult to walk alongside someone who is depressed, I wish you all the best.


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At 12, IMO, it's fully reasonable that you have full access to her phone. You should've set up this expectation ahead of time (especially with her depression issues). But, if you didn't, do it now. Who's texting her? What websites is she looking at? What's in her photos?
 

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At 12 my kids have not had a clue "what's wrong." They were as confused as I was. When people say "adolescence is a confusing time, all those hormones and emotions," that's what they're talking about. Thoughts and feelings don't necessarily line up with each other. Things that normally wouldn't seem like a big deal suddenly become sources of upset for no particular reason at all. Articulating that confusion is pretty much impossible for adolescents.

I'm not saying that you should write all of her difficulties off as normal adolescent stuff. Obviously you have had some significant reasons to be concerned about her mental health, and you should stay vigilant and proactive about that. But this part about not telling you what's wrong, that's extremely common for kids this age, and it's not because they won't, it's because they can't: they simply don't know. Continually pressuring them to disclose the cause of their upset can worsen their frustration with not understanding it themselves.

Miranda
 

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I agree with the phone, that might give you a clue as to what is going on right now.

How are you providing support for her Do you hug her, hold her hand, tell her you are there to just listen if she wants to talk, not to try to solve the issue or to give a lecture. I know as an adult I sometimes just need to be listened to, I don;t want someone to solve the problem. She may feel like that but not know how to express herself. She also may feel totally isolated and really need you to make it clear you will sit with her for as long as it takes for her to not feel alone.

As to her eating, if she is on medication that causes a reduction in appetite I would not recommend forcing her to eat. I have set meal times and my youngest myst try the food, but I give him a tiny portion on a small plate, and he is not forced to eat. I do not get angry with him, or raise my voice, if he gets full and doesn't want to eat more. His ADHD meds really decreases his appetite. He is offered healthy high calorie foods and there is always fruit around, and if I think he needs it, there are meal replacement drinks in the fridge.

If your daughter is showing signs of an actual eating disorder then professional help is needed. Which you are doing....
 
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I want to say this kindly, but if the typical responses she is receiving from her parents are "because I said so," and "I don't care" (to her lack of hunger), there may be some pretty long standing relationship issues that are causing her NOT to want to communicate. I'm a big fan of mutually respectful relationships. My kids have taught me (the hard way, of course) that if I want them to respect me and talk to me I have to respect them and listen to them--including those opinions that I don't care for, but need to listen to anyway. If she is going to see you guys as a resource--people that can help her and not merely dictate to her what she must do, you may need to change your stance and approach her with more of a gentle touch.
 
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