Depressed and Anxious


Depressed and Anxious


your avatar   Anj (13 year-old girl)

I have been diagnosed with depression and I'm on medication, but since I started taking it, I've been having anxiety attacks. My family thinks the meds are the problem, so we're going to switch.

I'm not going to get better though. I hate my school too much! I go to a Jewish private school, and no one likes it. It's horrible! We start at 8 and go on until 4:05. No electives, just Judaic studies and general studies. I started this school in kindergarten. By 5th grade, no one believed in the religion anymore. I'm going to have a bat mitzvah, and I can't get out of it. I'm an Israeli - American girl. Israeli girls only have parties, but I'm having a service! My school and bat mitzvah are making me depressed, but no one believes me. I've always wanted to go to a public school, but I can't. People are talking about me, because of my bad moods. My friend is depressed too, and when we're both in a bad mood, we get into fights. When we fight, she says that I don't know what depression is. Her dad committed suicide a number of years ago. I've cut myself once and she has too. When we're both not in a horrible mood, we are such good friends. I can't get out of my stupid school!

"What do I do? No one believes that it's the school and bat mitzvah. It's really bugging me. When I have anxiety attacks in school I go to the nurse, but I go so often, that my teachers get annoyed. They don't let me go! Some of them know about it, and they are really helpful, like when I cry. It sucks! My life is hell. What do I do? Kill myself? HELP."


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Anj,

I can feel how angry and upset you are. It has all seemed to be just too much to take!

Isn't it typical: You are reacting the way you are because your parents and school have decided what is good for you - and you have to do that, like it or not. If they didn't keep pushing at you, you wouldn't have felt the need to keep pushing back.

You say you are depressed. Maybe you are, but you don't sound depressed to me. Your writing shows you to be angry, resentful, and fed up, but you are also full of energy, intelligence and determination. People who are depressed don't feel like that.

I think your anxiety attacks can very well be due to the medications they've been giving you - some antidepressants can do that. Ask your doctor to 'wean you off' this medication, don't just stop taking it, because that can have very nasty effects.

Even with the little I know about your situation, I can tell that you don't need to be on any antidepressant medication at all. If drugs could have solved your problem, you wouldn't be feeling like this, would you? What you need is to talk to a very special kind of person; a psychologist who knows about "Narrative Therapy" and "Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy'". If you go to my website, you will find pages that explain what these mean.

Anj, I am sure your parents think they are doing what is best for you. Of course, they are not doing it in the way you want, so what they are doing is not working. However, if you print up this web page and show them, I am sure they will find someone who can help you out of your black hole of anger and misery.

What they have tried with you is not working. You are unhappy, your teachers are unhappy, and I am certain that your parents are unhappy, so a change is needed. As adults, they are set in their ways because they're sure they are doing the right thing. You are young and therefore, flexible, so here is a challenge for you: You can turn everything around, and improve things for yourself, even if they are "stick-in-the-mud" stubborn "fossils".

You live in a complex situation. That means that if one thing changes, everything else will change too. Make some changes, and see what happens. Now I don't know what those changes should be, but whatever you have been doing so far has been making you unhappy, so try something else.

Here is a trick that works for me: When you go to bed tonight, set up the problem in your mind, then go to sleep. In the morning, you will have some bright new ideas. These may or may not work, but try them out. You can always try other things - there are many ways to respond to any situation.

Until now, your way has been to feel resentful, and to do the opposite of what adults expect from you. This has not worked and has landed you in your unhappy situation.

So Anj, I challenge you. Find some other way of reacting. Whatever this new way is, it has to feel right for you. Some examples are:

  1. Negotiate a compromise. Offer to improve your general studies if your bat mitvah can be arranged exactly the way you want it.

  2. Put on an act. Pretend to no longer feel that you reject the religious studies, and see how you can change the way your teachers and parents react to you.

  3. Offer to do some of the things you currently resent, provided they get off your case about them.

  4. Offer to do some of the things they want you to, for suitable payment. For example, this payment could be a special holiday at the end of the school year.

The Jewish religion is fascinating in many ways. You could choose to study some interesting aspects in depth by using the resources in your school's library and work up a project about it. For example, where did the Kosher dietary rules come from? Why are you told to keep meat and milk separate? Study the concept of the Mitzvah or examine the writings of modern Jewish philosophers on the role of women.

If you find something like this, you'll amaze those adults who think you are nothing but a nuisance. Instead, you can prove yourself to be a STAR, as long as you are the one who chooses what to do!

I wish you'd left an email address. If you do read this, email me. Have a good life - I know you can.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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