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Young adult
Question from Donna on 4/3/2014:

Dear Judy, My 18 year old daughter is showing signs of manic depression and bipolar symptoms. We have not yet had her diagnosed due to lack of insurance. I spoke to a counselor I found on line to find out where to begin in treatment, I informed her that we were looking to find psychiatrist and doctors that share our Catholic views. The counselor insisted we have our daughter put on birth control pills to regulate her moods! I said that was out of the question because of our Faith and the fact that the pill is a toxic poison that only masks problems. Of course that didn't go over well with the counselor, I had the feeling she looked at me as if I were neglecting my daughter's health for the sake of my religion. My question is, how do we find help for our daughter from doctors who share our morals? We have looked online and can find nothing in our state,(NH). We don't want our daughter put on powerful drugs that she will have to be on the rest of her life. We are scared and overwhelmed. Would you have any suggestions for our family on where to turn? Sorry for the long letter. God Bless You.

Answer by Judie Brown on 4/6/2014:

Donna

I sent your question to our expert, Anthony Dardano, M.D. and here is his response:

True bipolar disease and/or manic depression are serious conditions which do warrant therapy, often with medications. I would have to say right from the start that in all my years I have never heard of using the birth control pill as a therapy. If anything, the hormonal components of the pill, especially the progestin, tend to make one more irritable and certainly would not "regulate one's mood" as suggested. Seems to me the counselor was inflicting her values on you. Therefore do not feel at all guilty as you did the right thing.

On the other hand from what you said, your daughter does need medical help in the form of a competent psychiatrist. And yes, if some form of medication is required, then accept it because the consequences of non treatment could be far worse than the treatment. Furthermore, many are treated only for a limited period of time and especially at this young age, they find their way out of this state and lead the rest of their lives medication free. I have had many a patient over the years who after college, married and had children successfully never to relapse again.

There are many agencies out there who can offer help. Call the mental health division of your local county health department for some referrals. Your pastor may have some leads as well as the local Catholic Charities office. I seriously doubt the issue of birth control pills will come up again as it has no place in her therapy. A psychiatrist would not order them anyhow. Should the topic casually come up for any reason, simply decline.

My prayers are with her to overcome this condition, and with you to guide her and get her the help she needs. May God bless you both.

Anthony N Dardano, MD, FACOG, FACS

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