Women’s and reproductive psychiatry focuses on the mental health issues related to women’s reproductive health. This area of psychiatry is concerned with the unique psychological and emotional challenges women face throughout their reproductive years, including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and infertility. Bethesda women’s & reproductive psychiatry aims to help women manage and overcome mental health issues that can affect their reproductive health.
Some common mental health conditions that fall under this specialty include:
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
It is a mood disorder that affects some women in the days or weeks leading up to their menstrual period. PMDD is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and can cause significant disruption to a woman’s daily life.
Symptoms of PMDD can include:
- Mood swings
- Irritability or anger
- Depression or feelings of hopelessness
- Anxiety or tension
PMDD is thought to be related to changes in hormonal levels during the menstrual cycle, but the exact cause is not fully understood. The treatment option includes a combination of medication and therapy. Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can effectively treat PMDD symptoms. Lifestyle changes like regular exercise and stress reduction techniques may also help manage PMDD symptoms.
It is a mood disorder that women may experience following childbirth. It can happen at any time during the first year but usually appears within the first few weeks or months after giving birth. Symptoms of PPD can include:
PPD is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including hormonal changes, stress, lack of sleep, and social or emotional support. Women with a personal or family history of depression or other mental health conditions may be at an increased risk of developing PPD.
Postpartum anxiety (PPA) is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur in women after giving birth. PPA is characterized by excessive worry or fear that affects a woman’s ability to function daily. This anxiety can focus on the baby’s health and safety, the woman’s health, or other aspects of daily life.
Some common symptoms of PPA include:
- Persistent worry or fear that is difficult to control
- Fear of being alone with the baby
- Panic attacks or feelings of impending doom
- Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations or sweating
PPA is thought to be caused by hormonal changes, lack of sleep, and stress associated with caring for a new baby.
Menopausal mood changes
As a woman goes through menopause, typically between the ages of 45 and 55, she may experience a range of mood changes related to hormone levels. Some women may experience only mild mood changes during menopause, while others may experience more severe symptoms that can affect their quality of life.
These mood changes can be related to estrogen levels, affecting the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood. Additionally, women going through menopause may be experiencing other physical symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness, which can also impact mood.
Contact your Washington Center for Women’s and Children’s Wellness (WCWCW) specialist to learn how you can benefit from women’s reproductive psychiatry.