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Dr. Olsen
Dr. Olsen, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2336
Experience:  PsyD Psychologist
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My 20 year old son is away at college and missing classes...

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My 20 year old son is away at college and missing classes... He is very unhappy, but when I bring up therapy, he gets angry. I don't know how to help him.
Thank you for writing in JustAnswer.
I'm sorry to hear about your son's situation.
Let me ask you a few questions first.
Does he tell you what is making him unhappy?
Has he ever exhibited this behavior before?
Is he refusing to see his doctor or a counselor?

Please let me know by clicking on “Reply” and I will then craft my response.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Warm Regards,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He says he is unhappy because he can't seem to accomplish anything. No motivation, etc. I know he is depressed. Yes, he has displayed this behavior before -- I'd say since the last two years of H.S. We had him in therapy before he left for college, but it didn't seem to help. He is refusing therapy. He did go to a doctor who ran some tests that were all normal. He is very smart (IQ is 133) and can be manipulative. His father and I are thinking of having him take a break from college. We are currently paying for college, an apartment and all expenses. He had a part-time job very briefly and quit without notice because he didn't like it. He doesn't seem to want any responsibility.
Hi there,
Thank you for your reply.
I can imagine how worried and anxious his situation must seem to you.
It's common for people of his age to go through emotional distress when they may start taking new responsibilities after finishing a high school
I wonder if he made new friends in college.
He may have some difficulty adjusting to a new environment. It's not uncommon for some people to have such adjustment issues and drop out from college in the first year.
I wonder is he is lonely there. Perhaps, he may be vulnerable to depressive feelings.

I understand he doesn't want therapy as he may be feeling therapy doesn't help for him. It's a good idea for him to take a break from college and go back home. He may need to motivate himself if he decides to go back to college. You may tell him he can come home now and take some time in thinking of what he wants to do next. He may need to get a part-time job to pay some money to you.

If he is resistant to psychological counseling, he may have a life coach or "life coaching" counseling to increase his motivation/purpose, plan for the future, and take constructive action.
He can search a licensed psychotherapist or a counselor who provides life coaching on internet- such as the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY website. Go to ( and enter your zip code and optional category of specialty such as life coaching or career counseling. Read psychotherapists’ profile to see if he or she specializes in life coaching. You may also want to create your mental image of psychotherapist that he wants to work with – Male or female? Old or young? To note, many counselors offer initial consultation for free. So he can see it as an informational meeting. You and he can ask any question. He can also negotiate psychotherapy fee and number of sessions.

Also, a heart-healthy diet like Omega 3 fatty acid may improve his brain functioning and mood. Focus on fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose low-fat protein sources, such as fish, lean meat and skinless poultry. Hydrate self during daytime.

Physical activity increases blood flow to his whole body, including your brain. This may help improve his mood.

Other recommendations are:
Avoid use of alcohol and drugs.
Sleep in complete darkness and try to be out in bright light during the day.
Spend time in nature weekly
Try to have pleasurable activities with friends and family.
Choose to listen to sounds that have positive effects on his mood.
Set limits on the amount of time he spends on the internet to avoid information overload.

I hope your son gets well with all available help.

Please let me know if you have more questions or I have overlooked any. Warm regards,

Dr. Olsen and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you