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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5808
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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What is the best way to motivate my 19 year old child to push

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What is the best way to motivate my 19 year old child to push himself to be social?
He is clinically depressed and emotionally delayed by approx. 3 years.(according to psychiatrist)
Treatment consists of talk therapy and medicine.
ive seen improvement in his mood but it's slow going.
besides college (which is over until January) he will spend all his time on the computer.
This does not give him the opportunity to develop friendships or social skills.
He has one friend and I asked him today if he wants to meet up with him tomorrow.
He said he has to go to the library tomorrow. I know motivation and socialization can be very difficult with depression. It's very hard to sit back and watch a 19 year old have no life except computers and college. His brother 2 years younger and he are very close and play on the computer together... Recommendations suggested...
Thanks much....
Mr. Elliot Sewell if you are available, I'd like to get your input.
Good day

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question, but I wanted to be sure you are ok with that. If you would prefer Mr. Sewell, that is fine.




Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm ok with that and thank you.

You're welcome!


It is very frustrating to watch a loved one cope with depression. One of the most difficult symptoms of depression is lack of motivation. It often keeps people from helping themselves and reaching out to others. The person prefers to not make an effort because making an effort takes so much energy. But someone who is depressed benefits from helping themselves and making an effort to overcome their symptoms.

In order to help your son, small steps are needed to help him get back on track. One thing you can do is lead by example. Start by being sure your son is eating well and caring for himself. If he is not, encourage him to do so. Gently ask him if he has showered, eaten at least one healthy meal that day and gotten some exercise. If he will not, ask him to accompany you to do so. Take him out to eat, ask him to go for a walk or take a spin around the mall.

Pitch in when you can to help. But don't do the chores for him. Ask him to help you. Even if he does a little, he is still doing something. Encourage other family members to help out too. Even if they only take your son for a drive, it is helping him get out and see the world.

Socially, your son may feel it is too much effort to cope with others and their interactions with him. The energy it takes to express himself, be interested in others and hold a conversation may feel overwhelming. You can help by suggesting he make time to be with his friend. Invite him to dinner with all of you. That way, your son can interact with him without having to hold the conversation. Then suggest they go somewhere together. A movie might be a good choice, or something that doesn't require too much interaction.

Try not to become discouraged. One of the biggest problems with being a caregiver is the burnout. You become stressed or even want to give up because it is so difficult to see progress. That is why you need support yourself. Besides having family and friends who can be there for you, consider support groups, either on line or in person for family members who cope with someone who has mental illness. People who are experiencing the same situation as you are can offer invaluable support, ideas and companionship to help you feel less stress. Here is a resource to help:

Also, your son may want to get involved with support for himself. Talking to others who experience the same issues can be invaluable to his recovery. Also, talking on line involves the computer, which he is already comfortable with. And with on line support, he can participate socially without having to exert the effort of a face to face interaction, giving him a chance to develop social interactions and skills he can then expand into real life. Here are resources to help you get him started:

I hope this helps you and your son,


TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I feel wonderful receiving your support and insightful answer with recommendations.
Thanks much

I am happy I could help! I'm here if you ever need to talk.


My best to you and your son,



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
An afterthought and hope you don't mind.Is it possible one day (realizing it's slow going) he can get caught up socially/emotionally?I'm suspecting this will be a life long struggle for him and my heart is breaking.Yes, I am currently making sure he eats well, as he does not.

No problem.


It depends on the reason behind his emotional delay. Does he have a diagnosis regarding his delay or do you feel it was more of an opinion the doctor gave you?



Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The psychiatrist said he is emotionally delayed, but did not put a label on it.
once I asked him if it was Aspergers syndrome, he said no.
He suffered some emotional trauma, enmeshment, and consequently withdrew from his friends for a few years.
This is to the best of my knowledge what may have happened to cause it.
Although the emotional trauma, enmeshment is gone, the depression continues.

If he experienced enough trauma to cause PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that would explain the emotional delay, depression and social withdrawal. If PTSD has not been considered, it should at least be ruled out by his psychiatrist.


In my experience, if the emotional delay has been caused by outside sources, there is an excellent chance of your son catching up eventually. It is when a person experiences delays due to learning disabilities, Autism or Aspberger's or another internal source that the delay may be permanent or difficult to overcome. Being that your son experienced trauma and he is a young male, he may need a few years to develop emotionally. Encouraging him would help, with gentle guidance in social situations. Start small, like the on line support and/or social groups, which is safer for him, and let him slowly work his way from there.



TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks again
Have a good weekend

You're welcome! It was good talking with you. Take care



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