WHY PSYCHIATRY FOR WOMEN?
For decades, women have been neglected in medical research and advised to stop all medications in pregnancy without thought to the effects of untreated anxiety and depression on the mother and baby. Today we know a lot more about the effects of medications in pregnancy and breast-feeding as well as the effects of a mother’s untreated illness on her and her children. In general, best practice now errs on the side of treating illness with medications if needed, but the discussion needs to be individualized and informed by knowledge of the research literature. Many doctors have never been trained in how to treat pregnant women or how hormonal changes may influence mood and anxiety. I am part of a national community of reproductive psychiatrists working to change that.
WHY OR WHEN SHOULD I SEE A PSYCHIATRIST FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY?
As a therapist who can also prescribe medications, I am in a unique position to monitor symptoms and help you make a decision about when they can be helped with therapy, sleep, exercise, communication, and other modalities and when the volume is simply too high for these first line treatments to be effective. The right medication at the right dose can help turn down the volume of negative or anxious thoughts, reactivity, irritability, and despair so that therapy and other strategies can then be put in place. If you are hoping to avoid, decrease or stop medications, psychotherapy with a psychiatrist who knows you is the ideal way to do watchful waiting, to understand how to reduce or use medications more effectively, or to be able to change course quickly when needed to treat worsening symptoms.
As a psychotherapist, I use aspects of psychodynamic theory, cognitive behavioral therapy, child development and family therapy, and my own empathy and curiosity about the person before me. My goal is to help each person understand better how they are made, their talents and strengths as well as their vulnerabilities, so they can make choices about their lives that are joyful, informed and compassionate.
WHAT IF I AM I MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL SEEKING TREATMENT FOR MYSELF?
I have experience treating physicians, nurses, therapists and others who provide medical care or work in the health system. My approach is collaborative and I have a deep understanding of the stressors and requirements of various roles in healthcare. I share my thought process and we discuss options and make decisions together. Helping those who care for others feel at their best is part of what makes my work deeply meaningful.
WHAT EXPERIENCE DO YOU HAVE TREATING WOMEN IN PREGNANCY?
I completed medical school, internship, and residency at Johns Hopkins and received specialized training at the Women’s Mood Disorders Clinic under Jennifer Payne and Lauren Osborne, two world experts in Reproductive Psychiatry. I have been a specialist in perinatal psychiatry at the University of Maryland since 2017. In addition to supervising and teaching psychiatry residents about Reproductive Psychiatry, I am on the Education Committee of The National Curriculum in Reproductive Psychiatry, have worked on modules teaching physicians how to support mental health in women throughout the reproductive life cycle (including during perimenopause) and have written several book chapters on these topics.
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT AT THE FIRST VISIT?
The first visit lasts from 90 minutes to 2 hours. I will ask you about your priorities and take a thorough history to understand your genetic risk, personal experiences, and the history of symptoms that you have experienced in the past and are currently experiencing. At the end, I will share my thoughts and recommendations and we will discuss whether my practice is a good fit for you and what working together would look like if we decide to establish onging care.