Almost a year ago I found myself in the emergency room. One of my sons had attempted to suicide. He had confided in his brother who alerted us about what had happened. It was a struggle, but we convinced our son to allow us to bring him to the hospital. I was scared because I had read that one in five people with bipolar disorder succeed in ending their lives. I knew that his actions were serious because, to be honest, I made numerous attempts to kill myself in my youth. I knew that this was not just a way of getting attention; it was a plea for help.
When he was admitted to the hospital a social worker interviewed him. I told her that I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and that it was a hereditary illness. She dismissed the idea stating that she felt that he suffered from only depression. The social worker expressed that his behavior could be attributed to the normal behavior exhibited by adolescents his age. She suggested that we should follow-up with our family doctor and ask for a prescription for an antidepressant. When I told her about my concerns about antidepressants and bipolar disorder she recommended that we could ask for “mild” one.
Her suggestions did not sit well with me. I did not believe the stuff that was coming out of her mouth. For one, a general practitioner is not adequately educated when it comes to the field of mental health, especially mood disorders. Secondly, a doctor other than a psychiatrist will not regularly follow up with my child and know how to adjust any prescribed medications. Finally, I cannot guarantee that a “generic” doctor will be responsible enough to refer my child to a good psychologist or psychiatrist who specializes in mood disorders. I will start my child’s treatment by finding a mental health professional of my choice, thank you!