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Depression, erratic behavior, tension in house. What is happening and what can I do about it?

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My son XXXXXXX and his girlfriend XXXXXXX have been living with my husband and I for approximately 6 months. After we all made some initial adjustments, we considered things were going fairly smoothly, however a few months ago XXXXXXX informed us that she was suffering from depression.
She considers that a difficult childhood with her single mother is the cause and constantly speaks very negatively about her mother. XXXXXXX becomes very emotional and upset over small things that her mother does or says and I have spent quite a bit of my time attempting to console her and encourage her to seek help.
Recently she brought home a new dog, (this is dog number 3 she has 2 already). She didn't ask or consult anyone at home, she made the decision alone. My husband and I spoke with her and our son and explained that another dog was one dog too many and it had to go.
After several emotional outbursts on XXXXXXX part we now have a new situation. XXXXXXX now has a list of grievances against myself and she has discussed this with my son. Apparently I have too many rules that are hard for her to live with and I don't speak nicely enough to her. I am now the person she is constantly speaking negatively about. My husband and I are astounded. She sounds like an emotionally charged teenager instead of a 25 year old. I'm sure XXXXXXX is unwell as her behavior is so erratic, however my son is smitten and believes everything she says. It's causing an enormous amount of tension in the house and I'm not sure what to do about it.
The obvious easy way out would be to ask them to leave, however financially they don't have the means to support themselves.

Do you have any clue what is happening and what I can do about it?
Posted Sat, 28 Apr 2012 in Depression
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 2 hours later

Thanks for your query.

Important aspects of your query are:

• 25 years old female.
• Concern related to the health of son’s girlfriend.
• Complaints of: negative views towards others, behaves like teenager, anger outburst, emotional outburst and social dysfunction.

With the limited information provided by you it appears that she has emotionally unstable personality traits. Other problem which can co exist with current condition are depression and adjustment disorder.

If the problem is of long duration, it indicates personality issue. If change in behavior is recent, then it indicates presence of psychiatric illness. I can understand the pain you are facing. To make final diagnosis assessment of patient is necessary.

In last following measures will help you:

•     Personality assessment by clinical psychologist or trained psychiatrist. It may take several days to make final diagnosis. Following tests are used to assess personality which is administered by trained psychologist: Clinical interview, Sentence completion test, Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), Minnesota-Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and several other tests
•     Psychotherapeutic treatment after assessment in form of counselling +/- drug therapy.
•     Treatment of co morbid illness like: anxiety, depression or other problems.
•     Improvement may take weeks or months depending on the case.

I hope this information will be both informative and helpful for you. Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Depression, erratic behavior, tension in house. What is happening and what can I do about it? 14 hours later
Thank you for your answer.

This is frightening. I am seriously concerned for my son's future with XXXXXXX
I had no idea we were faced with such a situation. I thought it was much more about simple depression.

Her moods seem to swing from normal, when she is involved in social activities for example, to down and moody, when she's at home during the week sleeping or watching tv, to outbursts of temper and emotion, when someone places expectations on her, even small ones such as not slamming doors at night.

There was also a situation that confounded me. Perhaps if I explain this to you it may give you more of an insight. And I have posed further questions at the bottom of this.

She was looking through the paper for work, she has been unemployed for several months due to her depression and she decided it was time to look again.
We naturally fell into a conversation about it. She said that she didn't feel the need to supportive herself, she felt that she shouldn't have to look for a job and go to work. She said it was too hard to go for interviews and she didn't want to be out there in the world with all the people.
XXXXXXX takes care of her finances and she feels happy for him to support her. There's no problem with that if he is earning enough, it's the norm for many families, however presently he's just getting a new business off the ground and finances are tight.

She stated that she knew nothing of the financial situation XXXXXXX does it all. I asked if she was prepared to go through life with XXXXXXX taking the responsibility for the financial decisions. She said that she wanted to be involved and was happy to participate in the financial decision making.

There was no problem at the time, it was a pleasant bright conversation, it was just part of our normal 'girl talk'.
Our relationship remained normal although there was a lot of emotional disruption in the following days in relation to XXXXXXX feelings about her mother and I spent a lot of time talking and consoling her and encouraging her to seek help.

During this time, one evening when XXXXXXX was out she took a large number of morphine tablets. She rang her doctor several times and ended up in hospital. Fortunately she hadn't taken enough to do any real harm and was home within a couple of hours.

It was 2 weeks later the dog arrived and we told her it couldn't stay, then several weeks later again the job conversation was raised in an emotional outburst and was one of a list of grievances.

Her recollection of our conversation was one of myself expecting her to get a job. That was definitely not the case at all, however, it seems as thought that is what she felt. Looking back it does appear as though she has found a lot of excuses to avoid finding work.
Could she be feeling that a job would require her to live up to a level of responsibility that she just can't handle?

At what level do people with these types of disorders normally function?

Could XXXXXXX reasonably be expected to take care of a house hold and care for young children for example?

Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 4 hours later
Hello again,

Bringing more pet at home indicate, need to fill chronic emotional feeling of emptiness.

Self harm acts like consuming morphine tablets can occur in emotionally unstable personality persons because of the severe emotional pain.

Avoiding job may be due to poor confidence (symptom of depression) but again need in person assessment of patient.

Finally to comment about level of functioning and adjustment with others in future require in person assessment of her like I mentioned in primary answer, to know the severity of symptoms, presence of other issues, her problems in current family and presence of other psychiatric illness.

I hope this information will be both informative and helpful for you.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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