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Gifted, Anxious, and Depressed
Q: We know our 13-year-old son is very gifted but we can't get him to do any schoolwork. He has anxiety and depression and has been on many medications, which help just a little. What do you suggest as the best course of action for him?
A: This is always a difficult situation for the child and the family. My heart goes out to you. You state that your son has been on several medications which have been only minimally effective. I hope that he has received counseling along with the medication. Depression and anxiety are treated more effectively when the medication is accompanied by counseling. If he has received counseling, is the counselor experienced in working with gifted children? Their emotional issues, when problematic, can be more intense. Do not hesitate to ask the counselor about their experience and training in working with gifted children. The National Association for Gifted Children at www.nagc.org has a webpage regarding counseling and guidance issues for gifted kids that you may find helpful.
When I work with children such as your son in my office, I try to teach them methods to use to calm and comfort themselves during anxious or upsetting times. Even on medication, every day is not a good day. Knowledge of relaxation techniques is essential. And don't forget the energizing power of exercise which nourishes the brain with chemicals that give a feeling of well-being. Too many gifted kids are sedentary. An excellent book that explains how diet, exercise, and general health practices can augment medication is The Antidepressant Survival Guide, by Dr. Robert Hedaya. I have recommended it to several patient families who have found it to be helpful.
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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.