Depression and bipolar can place significant strain on relationships, thoughts and feelings, work and physical health and well being. For women, the challenges can be even greater and can have a deep impact on parenting and family life, in the workplace and in their relationships. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression and just as likely to suffer from bipolar. The risks to a woman and the challenges of treatment can increase dramatically during pregnancy, after childbirth and in the time around menopause.
The time during and after a pregnancy presents even greater challenges to identifying and treating depression and bipolar. Treatment plans must consider the benefits of medications versus potential risks to the baby during pregnancy and during breastfeeding.
The Women’s Studies and Treatment Program is working to bring psychotherapies into clinical settings during the perinatal period as well as conducting research to develop and strengthen treatments that are not medicine based.
Doctor visits during pregnancy are often packed with questions, assessments and information, leaving little time to screen for mood disorders. We work closely with obstetric providers to improve their ability to screen and diagnose mood disorders and refer women into appropriate treatment.
Many medical doctors do not have the training or tools to accurately diagnose these conditions or know where to refer women for help when they are identified. The challenges continue into the post-partum period as well. But by providing support, education, consultation and resources to obstetric and primary care providers, the faculty and staff of the Women’s Studies and Treatment Program can help improve the quality of care these women receive.
Research on the identification and treatment of mood disorders in the perinatal period is limited. The providers in the Women’s Studies and Treatment Program are participating in important research to better understand the effects of mood disorders during pregnancy, ways to improve existing treatments and develop new ones. They are also working to develop new screening tools that obstetricians and primary care providers can use to better diagnose mood disorders during and after pregnancy.
The faculty and staff in the Women’s Studies and Treatment Program have extensive experience in the research and treatment of mood disorders in women.