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Need Help With My 20 Year Old Son

by Lori

Please help. My 20-year-old son has such uncontrollable rage at times, that it is very worrisome to me. He was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at about 14 years of age. We tried a lot of different drug regimes, and it seemed to work for a while.

But as he got older he decided he didn't like the side effects, so he went off all drug therapy. He seems to be doing well with the depression—it's the rage that is the problem now. The episodes are very scary, and I am afraid for him and afraid of him.

The symptoms on this site describe exactly what it is like. They are uncontrollable and last about 20 minutes. Then it's as if nothing happened, and you are left scratching your head going "Wow!"

Can you help us before it's too late?


Response from Dr. DeFoore

Hello Lori. Thanks for asking for help on this site. A lot of people face the kind of problem you and your son are having, and reading this will be helpful to them.

I'm going to assume your son is living at home with you--that is how it sounds from what you wrote. If that is not the case, write again and I'll make adjustments.

One thing is for sure--you cannot do anything about his anger. Only he can. You cannot help him unless he wants help.

At 20 years old, your son needs to be responsible for himself. You didn't mention whether he is working or not, but I assure you he will not be happy as long as he is dependent on you in any way. I have seen this over and over in my 35 years of counseling. No young adult is happy living with their parents, at least in my experience. So, if he does live with you, he needs to get out on his own as soon as possible.

Don't expect him to like this. I know you love your son very much, but you have to do the right thing no matter how he responds. If you are afraid of him, then get other adults to support you, or get the police to help you. If you feel threatened by him in your own home, as it sounds like you are, he needs to leave. It is you asking for counseling here, not him. If he decides to get help, that's a different story.

You're going to have to use tough love. It is not loving at all to allow him to stay in your home and frighten and threaten you with his rage. While it might seem cold to make him move out, it would be even more damaging to him to allow him to continue to rage and threaten you.

What I've said so far is all for the purpose of insuring your physical safety. It will also help to insure that he does not commit violent acts that could mean incarceration.

Tell him you want him to be happy and successful, but that you will not allow him to continue to rage and threaten you in your own home. Make it clear that you are the authority--that is absolutely necessary!

In the privacy of your thoughts, pray for him, and trust him to make the right choices. Expect him to surprise you and do the right thing. Believe in him more than you fear him or fear for him. This will help you, and he will feel it too. Reach out to friends and family that are healthy and happy, and they will support you.

Make up your mind that you will resolve this in a way that is good for him and for you. Then take one step at a time until you've reached your goals. Never give up on him or yourself.

I wish you all the best in your efforts to make the right choices.

Dr. DeFoore

Comments for Need Help With My 20 Year Old Son

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Jan 12, 2014
by: Anonymous

That was a long time ago now. I have only just come across this post via email tonight. My son has since had 3 major brain operations and is doing well. They took the bad bit out and I now have my real son back. It wasn't the easy option by a long way. Just to say...never ever give up peeps, it can turn out well. He's now 26yrs old and doing well. There are some very clever people out there if you manage to find them. To anyone who is going through hell right now: make sure you stay safe and also believe it can come good. Honest! We made it through after 15 years of bad times. Believe in yourselves. Give love and understanding. Here's hoping you can come through it too. I'm stronger now. Thank you for listening.

Jan 08, 2014
Son With Rage And Too Much Medication
by: Anonymous

My son also has had issues with anger and rage. He has been on numerous medications. The medications cause so much sedation I don't know what is worse. He walks around like a zombie when on the meds. His psych MD keeps adding more. We cant get him to even think about therapy. Says he doesn't need it. Its very frustrating for us as parents who want relief from the chaos.

Aug 25, 2012
20 year old son
by: Anonymous

He went to college and came back home. He is not want to help with chores. If we say something to him he disrespects us. Can't get him to go anywhere. He only went to college one semester and didn't attend classes. He stayed inside his dorm room and comes out only to eat or visit friends.

Oct 06, 2009
Feeling Very Lost
by: Jayne

This is such a sad story and one I can completely understand. My 22 yr old son has unstable Epilepsy and is on heaps of drugs. He's violent and at times dangerous to me and his younger brother. I have looked for help in many quarters, ie, Dr's, Police, Social Services, even his Neurologist and not been given any help whatsoever. They just don't seem to want to put themselves out that much. Over the last 3 months he has barricaded himself in his bedroom only coming out to use the bathroom. He doesn't wash. I take his food up and leave it on the landing and he will only come out to take it once he has made sure I am downstairs. His violent outbursts are something to see and he has also tried to kill his younger brother and hurt me. We are terrified of him and don't know where else to turn. My family are many miles away. This is a very big thing to admit here but I have had thoughts of burning the house down with him in it. These are just thoughts, but it scares me to feel like that. Like you, I need help but no one to turn to anymore. My thoughts are with you.

Apr 18, 2009
Help Yourself
by: Abby

I'm sorry that you are going through this. Bipolar disorder is a terrible disease and unfortunately we haven't come very far with respect to treatment. I had heard people say that antipsychotics are like living with a chemical straight-jacket on. Nonetheless, it's the best we have for controlling the disorder. You are afraid of your son and that is not okay.

You feel afraid because there is something to be afraid of - you MUST look after yourself. Your son is putting you and anyone living with you in danger.

The response of a normal person to a situation like this, especially if they are already related is "If I JUST love them enough, everything will be alright." Unfortunately that is not the case and the sooner you come to terms with that the better for all concerned. Bipolar, especially if he is refusing his medication, even though we may empathize with him on that, is a condition that is likely to get worse, not better, especially at his age.

You must reach out and get as much support as possible for yourself. One of the most difficult lessons in life that we have to learn is to let go and this is what you must do. Let him go. You are going to have to be gentle and strong at the same time. He does have an awful challenge to learn to deal with in life - it's difficult enough if everything is working well. But this is HIS challenge in life and HE is the one who has to learn to master difficult emotions, perceptions etc. Go to your health department and ask what help is available to you and also to your son. There may be separate support groups for you and for him, places to live, etc., of which you are not yet aware. Also if you go to a support group there will be people there who have been in this situation a lot longer and will have learned coping mechanisms, services, support networks etc.

If you are able to offer these these things to him when you talk to him about getting his own place, it will help you both. Remember, gentle and strong. You must do something to remove yourself and the rest of your family from danger and you must do it soon. Don't be wishy-washy or two minded in any way about this. It's time it changed.

God Bless You.

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