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Ask The Experts

Should She Stay Home?


My daughter was diagnosed with a mood disorder, possibly bipolar disorder, the beginning of her senior year. They’re just calling it a mood disorder now because she had marijuana in her system when I took her to the hospital and she was admitted. She is a very bright young woman and will be graduating from high school next month. She has accepted admission – though it’s not binding at this point – at a large university that is more than 5 hours from our home but I am concerned about her being so far away and the stresses of college. She would like to eventually be a Physician’s Assistant and would be taking difficult classes. I think she’s a little concerned about being away too. Another option would be to attend the local community college, live at home and eventually transfer to a university. Any suggestions?

Victor Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, The Jed Foundation answers:

It is sometimes very difficult to make a clear diagnosis when there are drugs in the picture. That said, it sounds as if whatever was happening with your daughter was serious enough to necessitate an admission to the hospital. It is not clear from your note how she has been doing for the past few months. What are her doctors recommending? If she has not been very stable for the past 6 months or so, it may make sense for her to be nearer to home for a while. One option might be for your daughter to request a leave of absence from her accepting college-you could inform them that she has had some health issues which are not completely resolved-and have her spend a term in a local school in order to ease into college and then if all is ok, she could move along to the original school. Again, it would be really helpful to consult with her current treating clinicians since they should-together with you and your daughter-have a sense of how much work and pressure she can handle and how she might manage with being away from home.