Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.
My sister was diagnosed with depression about six months ago, but there has not been much improvement since, in spite of the medication she takes. The other day, I confronted her about her mood swings and she confessed that she sometimes goes off her pills because she fears she will become dependant on them. I asked my friends and they said my sister is right; anti-depressants are addictive. I want her to get better but don’t want to tell our parents about her not taking her medication. What should I do?
While the drug manufacturers claim that antidepressants are not addictive, your sister’s inconsistent use of her medication could very well be part of the problem as to why she continues to have mood swings. Depending on the type of anti-depressant that has been prescribed, it can take a minimum of four weeks before your sister starts to notice the benefits. Since anti-depressants aren’t designed to be used for an infinite period of time, it is very helpful for her to learn specific tools and strategies for overcoming depression.
Cognitive Therapy — which was originally developed to treat depression — is currently one of the most widely researched and widely practiced models of psychotherapy in the world today. You may want to encourage your sister to see a Cognitive Therapist and to take her medication as prescribed. If your sister feels that the antidepressants are not helping (after a period of taking them regularly), she may want to discuss this with her doctor.
I think I’m adopted. I feel like my family and I don’t have anything in common. My brother is outgoing like my parents but I am totally different, I like to be left alone and keep to myself. I don’t like going out much, which happens to be my family’s idea of ‘family time together’. But when we’re together in public they always make fun of how ‘different’ I am, they don’t understand that I don’t have any interest in the things that they like to do. Is it normal for me not to feel a connection with my family? Do you think I should ask my parents if I’m adopted?
It’s actually quite common — especially as a teen — to go through periods where you feel a lack of connection with your family. What’s important is that you continue to identify your likes and dislikes as part of developing a healthy sense of self. Regardless of whether you decide to ask your parents if you are adopted, tell them how it makes you feel when they make fun of how you are different. It’s quite possible that they don’t realize the impact of their teasing. In the meantime, you may want to pay closer attention to some of the more subtle ways (i.e. certain mannerisms, eye color, body type, values and beliefs, love of animals and nature, etc.) that suggest that you actually do have things in common with different members of your family.
I got into a fight in school the other day and my knuckles are fried. My parents will kill me if they find out so I lied and said I got hurt playing ball. The problem is the guy I had the fight with keeps coming by our house, waiting for a chance to finish our fight. So far, I managed to avoid him but I know if he comes by another time, there’s Sometimes, when my mom is talking to me in front of my friends, she bursts into baby talk. She’ll call me my baby name or quote some stupid mispronunciation that I had when I was younger. Now, my friends tease me by my baby name. It’s embarrassing, but I don’t want to be rude to my mom. How do I tell her to stop? gonna be a fight. I want to keep my parents out of this. How can I?
Avoiding responsibility will probably create more problems for you in the long run. Making responsible choices means that you have considered the consequences of your behaviours before acting. It means speaking the truth to your parents about why you felt you needed to lie, even if they don’t completely understand why you got into a fight. It also means facing this guy (clearly avoiding him doesn’t make him go away). While you have some important decisions ahead of you, keep in mind the fact that we earn respect from others by proving that we are able to take responsibility for our decisions—and our actions. Hopefully you will find a way to make this situation a more positive one through your responsibility to make the best choices for yourself.
Sometimes, when my mom is talking to me in front of my friends, she bursts into baby talk. She’ll call me my baby name or quote some stupid mispronunciation that I had when I was younger. Now, my friends tease me by my baby name. It’s embarrassing, but I don’t want to be rude to my mom. How do I tell her to stop?
While your friends might genuinely think that your baby name is ‘cute,’ you could explain to your mom that her innocent display of affection has created an opportunity for your friends to tease you. Hopefully by doing so, your mom will understand, and keep her baby talk just between the two of you.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com