I was looking over a  chart not long ago and saw a combination of medicines that caught my eye.  The young woman I was caring for was taking an oral contraceptive and an antidepressant.  Nothing unusual, except that it occurs to me that I frequently see that combination, especially in high-school and college-aged single women.

Maybe it’s nothing, but I wonder how the two are linked.  Ask many young men these days about women and they’ll tell you that the women they know are “crazy”.  They’re possessive, dramatic, anxiety prone, clinging, grasping and emotional.  Ask the same men about women taking birth control pills and they’ll express a certain gratitude, exhale a sigh of relief.  Ask young women about men and they’ll say that young men are superficial, groping, over-sexed, non-committal, immature and self-absorbed.

I’m no psychiatrist.  I’m a physician, a husband.  I am also a father, not only of three sons but of one daughter.  Over the years I have learned about women, mostly by being married to one but  now by the process of raising one.   And I’ve learned that women are specially wired for relationships.  My daughter is completely connected to everyone in  her world.  She even establishes family relationships with her dolls.  When she sees someone cry she says, “he needs his mama”.  Little girls are clear about the  need for security and connection.  It begins at birth, probably before.

All women are designed to establish relationships and maintain them.  They are also made to incorporate physical intimacy into the appropriate relationships, rather than have it as a stand-alone activity.  So, when young women are expected to engage in sex without the security of a lasting relationship, without the hope of a lasting connection with their partner, they become uncomfortable. It violates their programming.  Deep inside, in the place they allow very few to see, it breaks their hearts.

Broken hearts can cause depressed minds.  And that, I suspect, is one of the major reasons that so many women are taking antidepressants along with their birth control pills.  Here they are, young, thrilled by life, full of passion and anxious to share their minds, their spirits, even their bodies with someone whom they love.  But once they do, that someone decides that it was fun for a while, but that it’s time to move on to the next person.  Of course young women become depressed.  Why shouldn’t they?

Popular culture gurus, as well as the entertainment industry, seem bent on sabotaging young lives.  Women’s magazines suggest that their readers should be just as sexually casual as men.  Movies and television portray romance which is almost always tied to a series of sexual encounters.  Men’s magazines give a formula for becoming sensitive sexual predators who know they aren’t in for the long  haul, but who are willing to learn the technical science of good sex, willing to dress and perform to attain the physical goal, interested enough to learn to understand just enough of the female mind, but not too much. The idea seems at worst to promote blatant promiscuity, at best to offer serial monogamy as the best alternative.  All in the interest of emotional and sexual health.  All in the age of infidelity, divorce and depression.  All in the age of HIV when sex and death seem to lie so often together.

Oral contraceptives and antidepressants for women.  But what for men? Self-deception, mostly.  Men are taught, by other men, to enjoy women, use women, find other women.  Unfortunately, it’s false and destructive.  The male of the species is born for relationship as surely as the female.  Culture just does its best to de-program, to blind men so that their need for intimacy is camouflaged as a need for sex, and their desire for security with a woman is hidden, for fear that it means weakness.

I hope someone out there is doing it differently.  I hope someone’s little girls are being encouraged to hold out for real love, real commitment.  And  I hope someone with a little boy about two or three is planning to teach him that women, or particularly a woman, will need his heart before his body.  I hope that boy learns how important it is to find someone to love permanently.  So that when my  little girl begins to notice and be noticed by boys, by men, she won’t need the unfortunate combination of anti-depressants and birth control pills to cope with her repeatedly broken heart.

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