Newbie with 10 yo son with real issues, scared and worried.


New Member
Hello everyone, this is my first time here. I found this site looking for some support for parenting children with different diagnoses. Here is a quick history of my 10 yr old son.

1. Having issues since 6 yr old, noticed some severe depression, found out he was mildly sexually abused about 1 month prior to noticing the behavior. Was in counseling immediately from that ~ has seemed to deal great with that. After 2 yrs the sex abuse dr. let us come "as needed basis"

2. 6 months after stopping counseling he started failing school, bulling others, defiance, physical with brother, moody, and severe problems with attention, daydreaming and organization. So I took him to an independent ADD/ADHD doctor for testing, he did some testing and called me 2 wks later, stated this: ADHD - inattentive kind, severe depression, severe anxiety disorder, Mood disorder and can not rule out bi-polar.

3. Medications: He has been on 25 mg Zoloft, 5 mg Abilify, and 40 mg Strattera, the straterra is fairly new, school does think this helps but at home I don't see it helping much. He did stop taking the abilify for a short time, and within 2 wks he became severely violent at school and uncontrollable. So he went back on it. He has been on Zoloft and abilify for about 3 yrs now.

Recently, in the last month, things are getting dangerously worse in my opinion. School - he's failing, he has an IEP due to emotional dysfunctions, he does counseling alone 2 times a month, and we do family counsel 2 times a month, and sees his psychiatrist 1 time a month for medication checks.

Yesterday he was grounded for telling he to shut the F*** up, and he hated me, and cursing other words. When he found out the next day he was still grounded (he did know this) he got angry, broke his bedroom window screen out and ran away, it's -15 here, and he left in shorts, sweatshirt and 2 pair of socks. I called police, he was at a friends house. He told PD that he does think of killing himself, so they called mobile crisis unit, but they did nothing saying he was not in danger of hurting himself or others at this point.

My questions or concerns is how can they tell if it's more bipolar than the ADD? I have been reading about the BiPolar (BP) and he has almost each and every symptom, bed wetting even at 10 years old from time to time.

Also I read Abilify helps BiPolar (BP), but since he's been on it so long, mabye he needs to increase dose? I am scared of all these medications. We have tried herbal medications, as well as things like "crawling" reward systems and more. He basically tells us to our face, he does not care, not even a little, he hates everyone. He has kicked me, and I have lost complete control. He's not my little boy anymore. If he's told NO for something, he looses it, the mood swings are scary!

He's getting kicked off the bus due to mood swings, everything sets him off, nothing sets him off.

I'm so worried and scared.
Any help is appreciated.


Active Member
There are other options also, not just BiPolar (BP) or ADD. I do think he needs to be re-assessed. If/when you do take him to someone, I would go to someone who doesn't just specialise in one type of disorder, because doctors tend to see what they're accustomed to seeing. I call it the revolving door diagnosis. I was once involved in a support network for people with immune dysfunction and one doctor on our list suddenly began diagnosing almost very patient as being hypoglycaemic. Every patient would leave his surgery clutching a bottle of glycerin, which they were supposed to sip at frequent intervals. We sent a healthy person to this doctor as a test - they came out with a little bottle of glycerin.

That's not to say it's not merely ADD, but it does sound worrying.

Some things to consider - check out the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire on Browse around the whole site and see if you find anything familiar. But do the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) questionnaire (it's not officially diagnostic) and whatever the result, print it out and take it to the appointment. because what it DOES do is help list the things that concern you, and to what extent they seem to be a problem. Add any notes and concerns of your own not addressed by the questionnaire. What the thing does is trigger ideas and thoughts about your child that you otherwise might not think to mention.

Also, read "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. One thing that has changed our lives - we no longer punish difficult child 3 for things he says out of impulse. We still correct him, but when he's in a position to listen, not when he's raging. There is a lot of useful info in that book. Once you start punishing for angry bad language it begins to look like that scene with the nun in "Blues Brothers" - ludicrously funny, if you're not the parent of the child.

I know people can recommend books a lot, so Google the book first, trawl Early Childhood forum here (or the archives) for some useful inside glimpses of the book; get it from the library before you commit to buying yet another book. But a lot of people on this site recommend it. With good reason.

There are other similar books on bipolar - I'm less familiar with bipolar so I can't give you much advice there, but check out everything that seems familiar, take notes, take him to another independent expert (a REALLY independent one) and see how you go.



Well-Known Member
Hi Amy and welcome from a fellow NYer. First off, we aren't doctors here so we can't diagnose, but we can relate our experiences so that you may find the right path for your family. Here's a link that discusses some similarities and differences between ADHD and Bipolar:
You may also want to take a look through the Chandler Papers, located in our FAQ forum.

I won't speak to medication, since I only have very limited, second hand experience with medication for bipolar. Others will be along shortly offering their opinions.


Amy, welcome! I'm glad you found us.

According to The Bipolar Child (and our own psychiatrists), 30 to 50 percent of young children who start off with a diagnosis of depression end up actually having bipolar disorder. Many of these depressed kids are treated with SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft and end up in worse shape because antidepressants destabilize them and make them manic, angry, aggressive and completely uncontrollable. I have lived this scenario with two of my kids who took SSRIs (Zoloft in my son's case and Paxil in my daughter's case). They are now on mood stabilizers and doing a whole lot better.

Your son is on two antidepressants (Zoloft and Strattera), which actually could be making things much worse. Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic that treats the mania associated with bipolar disorder, but it would not be enough to offset the destabilizing effects of Zoloft and Strattera. If your son has BiPolar (BP), he would need to be treated with a first-line mood stabilizer (Lithium, Lamictal, Depakote, Tegretol, Trileptal).

I would strongly recommend a new evaluation with a board-certified child psychiatrist who has experience treating kids with BiPolar (BP). It's imperative that you get your son on the right treatment if he indeed has BiPolar (BP) or things will only get progressively worse.

Again, welcome. I wish you luck on your journey.

Sara PA

New Member
The first thing I would look at are the two antidepressants your son is taking. Both Zoloft and Strattera are antidepressants and can cause or worse mood swings (both depression and mania), anxiety, aggression, hostility, violence, etc. In fact there is a version of bipolar which is caused by antidepressants. He should have never been put on an antidepressant, let alone two of them, if the doctor suspected he could have bipolar disorder.

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Welcome. You are not alone. Those mood swings are hard to deal with-my difficult child is always in and out of moods. You will find much support here-this place can be a lifesaver. Many gentle hugs to you. I hope you are finding time for yourself as it is very important to take care of you.

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
Welcome Amy. I'm sorry that things are so out of control at this time.

You've been given a great deal of advice on medications, diagnosis's & such.

My only suggestion would be the need to possibly readdress the abuse/trauma your difficult child suffered. As a traumatized child nears puberty it tends to bring out high level of anxieties, outrageous behaviors & some self destructive tendencies.

I don't mean to add another thing to your plate - I have 2 very traumatized children & this sounds so very familiar.

Find time for yourself. :warrior:


Well-Known Member
I was going to say basically the same thing Timer Lady said about the abuse. Any sexual abuse can leave lasting problems. The others make good points about the medications and talking about maybe a new evaluation.


New Member

My oldest was in a similar sounding place. We did two things that really helped. First we started Lamictal.It is a mood stabilizer that helps with depression. If depression still seems to be a problem after he is weaned off Zoloft, you might want to ask the doctor about it. He had been on Prozac previously -didn't make him violent, but made him impulsive. Strattera didn't do much if anything. He had tried just about everything else. HIs ADHD has been helped (and I think to the extent that he has it, it is due more to anxiety and other things) by a very small dose of Adderall (5 mg XR). His depression is much much better and he has started responding better to incentives. Second, while he was in his very "difficult" phase, we learned that punishments, consequences etc didn't accopmlish much--he didn't care what we did. and if he did, it was only to rage more. Reading the book The Explosive Child really helped.

good luck. We have seen a major turnaround in the past year. It can happen!

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Welcome to the board. :grin:

I'm also going to chime in that abuse creates lasting problems. I know for myself it could mellow out and then wham there it would be again.

You've already received some great advice. I did want to add that I used to be scared of the medications too. But I learned thru my difficult child N that they can be invaluable in acheiving stability with bipolar. Finding the right ones at the right doses can sometimes be a challenge all by itself.

It may be time now for a re-evaluation now that he's older. Just to see where he's at and what his needs are.



New Member
Well he has been seeing a board-certified child psychiatrist for the past 6 months or so, we see her 1 time each 6 wks. I'm going to call tomorrow and see if we can come in asap to talk about this anger and mood swings that are new since our last visit 4 wks ago.

I appreciate SOOO much all your support and kind words. I feel so alone in this, I am remarried, and my new husband although he's involved, he doesn't feel he should make such a big decision on my son, but his bio dad, is involved but lives 700 miles away and only sees him 9 weeks a year. He wants him to come live with him, he respects him more, he also doesn't believe in such things as depression, anxiety, bipolar (even though he was diagnosis'd as a child) and such things, so he will not keep him on medications if he goes to live there.

My biggest fear now is I have 0 control over him, he's getting kicked off the bus, school suspensions, hurting his brother, hurting me, running away, police have been here, I feel like maybe he should go live with his dad who has no other children and can devote all his time to him. But on the other hand, I divorced him for severe anger and physical abuse (I don't think he does this with current wife, but you never know)

I also have heard Zoloft can cause suicidal thoughts, and now he's went from 12.5 mg to 25 mg in the last 3 months, maybe that is where that's coming from?

I read the link someone gave me earlier and comparing to ADHD and BiPolar (BP), he has much more of the BiPolar (BP) things then the ADHD.

I'm just so scared, it's causing me to have severe panic attacks, I have 3 other children, who see him act out like this, they get scared. His little brother looks up to him and I don't want him to go down the same road. And I can't give him 100% of time because I have a infant baby too. Tomorrow for instance husband has to go to work late so I can drive him to school instead of walking to the bus stop because I'm scared he'll run and not get on the bus.

Thanks everyone!
Do you think I should still try and find another child psychiatrist for a 2nd opinion? Or just talk to her again first? Child ones are VERY hard to find out here I think there are 4 within a 60 mile radius.

All my family and friends live in our home town state and we are moving htere this summer, and that is where his dad lives too, so at least if he lived there I could see him, but I think he says "I just wanna live with dad" to hurt my feelings.

Like tonight, he drew me a picture stating I was lazy and fat, eating potato chips and disgusting, then put mom is a lazy gross slob. He knows I worry about my baby weight, I get excited when I lose weight, so he is using that against me. But tomorrow morning, he'll act like nothing happened. :tears:


My own opinion is that you should first talk to the current psychiatrist. If she does not even acknowledge that the medications could be the problem, I would absolutely seek a second opinion with a new psychiatrist. We had to do this when my daughter's prescribing psychiatrist kept upping her dose of Paxil when she was exhibiting almost psychotic behaviors. When we got to a new psychiatrist, she immediately weaned my daughter from Paxil because she knew the bad reaction was from the medication.

Was it 4 weeks ago that your son started Strattera and the anger and mood swings increased?

FWIW, my son had his prolonged intense manic reaction on a 25 mg dose of Zoloft. It can definitely happen.


Active Member
Yep. What she said. (Smallworld, I mean).

Hang in there. Have faith in yourself but communicate loudly with current psychiatrist.

Good luck.

I think you have been given excellent advice by the others. I also agree with Smallworld and Marg that I would talk to the current psychiatrist first to see if she thinks that the current medications might be part of the problem. It is also hard where I live to find appropriate psychiatrists, counseling services, etc. for my difficult children. Also, if you have to travel more than 60 miles to appointments, this is going to wear you out even faster...
I know... I was not exactly in your position, but I had an infant and two very young difficult children. Just packing them up for the ride for difficult children services was a chore in itself!!!

Hang in there!!! I know your difficult child might not have the same diag as my difficult child 1, but once difficult child 1 was put on a high enough dose of trileptal, his raging decreased dramatically. Without trileptal, I truly don't think I would be able to keep difficult child 1 at home at times!!!
The right medication can make a world of difference!!!

You have alot going on. I know having a difficult child is hard enough, but when you also have 3 other very young children, it can be H-LL!!! It is really important that you take care of yourself. Is there any way you could even get a half hour a day to exercise??? Exercising definitely is a lifesaver for me!!! Without it, I feel as though there are times I would fall apart...

in my humble opinion, taking care of yourself needs to be a top priority!!! Starb wrote an excellent post about this not too long ago... I think it was posted in General. I can't remember the date. I'll try to find it for you when I have a bit more time.

Thinking of you and sending you cyber hugs... WFEN

P.S. I found Starb's post. I'm horrible with computers so I can't give you the link here, but she posted in general on 1/18/07. The subject is Selfish Parent or Survival Parent. I hope you get a chance to read it. WFEN

Sara PA

New Member
Well he has been seeing a board-certified child psychiatrist for the past 6 months or so, we see her 1 time each 6 wks. I'm going to call tomorrow and see if we can come in asap to talk about this anger and mood swings that are new since our last visit 4 wks ago.
There is no assurance that because a doctor is board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist that s/he is going to be the best doctor for your child. Both psychiatrists who treated my son left the antidepressant in place even after his suicide attempt and months of violent rages. The second one was considering removing the antidepressant but was moving slowly. That was before the black box warnings and the related publicity that spelled out the suicidal ideation and hostility that can occur with antidepressants but the information was available and the doctors should have been more aware of the psychiatric adverse reactions those drugs can cause. Today, there is no excuse for a doctor to not know and not warn parents to watch for negative changes when kids are taking those drugs....and that includes Strattera, which some doctor still don't quite grasp is an antidepressant and all the antidepressant warning apply.

I also have heard Zoloft can cause suicidal thoughts, and now he's went from 12.5 mg to 25 mg in the last 3 months, maybe that is where that's coming from?
Not only was the Zoloft increased, the Strattera was added. And not only are there issues with suicidal ideation, there are issues with "hostility", a category which includes, among other things, homicidal ideation.

Do you think I should still try and find another child psychiatrist for a 2nd opinion? Or just talk to her again first? Child ones are VERY hard to find out here I think there are 4 within a 60 mile radius.
I'd talk to her. If she blows it off with a "that really doesn't happen" or something like that, I would do without a psychiatrist rather than take my child to her.


Well-Known Member
So sorry about your problems!
I love The Explosive Child. Good ideas.
My 10-yr-old son is mildly ADHD and ODD, and probably has Asperberger's. His rages perfectly fit the bell curve in one of the books I have. Turns out I was provoking him as much as he was provoking me... even my tone of voice can accelerate and exacerbate the situation. I am learning to walk away. I have waaaay lowered my expectations. But we still have expectations. We still have rules.
We do not have him on any anti-depressant because they are still in the experimental stage and sorry to say, your son's experience is one big experiment (but you know that already). It's just that, as another person here noted, the drugs can cause even worse mood swings.
It's a royal pain, but you'll have to keep exploring and working with-new plans. When something works, and then doesn't work, keep doing it anyway so he can see you are consistent. Sometimes plans ebb and flow, if that makes sense, but they're still good plans.

In re: to his blowing up when you told him he was still grounded, that sounds SO familiar! My son only understands precise instructions and absolutes, i.e. "You're grounded" means right this minute. He wakes up the next day and thinks the rules no longer apply. So I have to really think hard b4 something comes out of my mouth, i.e. "You're grounded for the rest of the day. After dinner, we'll talk."
If I say more than that, it's likely to lead to the door slamming in my face or having him placing his hands over his ears.

Also, when he's overstimulated, he looks away, like our dogs do. He often runs to another room or out the door when things don't go his way. I don't worry about it any more... even when he's in his socks, because he always comes back within 10 min.

The psychiatric told me not to chase after him when he runs away... to slowly walk toward his room and say, "First person to your room gets to keep whatever they pick up..." It works every time. Yes, he will be enraged as he runs past me in the hall and shoves me, but at least it keeps him in the house!

Just some thoughts.

I don't know anything about sexual abuse.
Good luck.


New Member

Just wanted to add my welcome. You seem to have a lively household, can't add anything that hasn't been said just seconding the 'make time to take care of yourself and your marriage" idea.


New Member
Just waned to add my welcome too and send a *hug* your way.
I know the mood swings can get hard to deal with at times. Just knowing that there are others out there that face some of the things husband and I face helps quite a bit. You have found a great group of people to talk with and throw ideas around with. Once again, welcome aboard.