Women's Mental Health Services

Women's Mental Health Services at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital (BWFH) are designed to meet the unique needs of women with depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Women's hormones, reproductive cycle changes, and life experiences can influence their vulnerability to emotional disturbances, and can affect decisions about medications, psychotherapy and other forms of treatment.

The BWH and BWFH mental health team is a group of clinicians with specialized training and expertise in treating women with these and other problems:

  • Psychiatric symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum
  • Reactions to infertility or pregnancy loss
  • Premenstrual mood symptoms
  • Psychiatric symptoms/emotional changes during the transition to menopause (perimenopause)
  • Non-hormonal treatment of hot flashes associated with mood symptoms.
  • Reactions to breast cancer, uterine cancer, hysterectomy or other gynecologic problems.

During times of reproductive transition (pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause), some women are at heightened risk of developing problems with depression and/or anxiety. There are ways in which women can effectively prevent these problems over the course of their reproductive lives. The clinicians in the BWH and BWFH mental health services work with women to plan preventive strategies, including:

  • Planning for healthy pregnancies for women with pre-existing psychiatric disorders, and/or women who take medications for mood or anxiety problems. This includes consultation about how to minimize risks of psychiatric medications while trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, and about alternatives to medication.
  • Assessing a woman's risk for postpartum depression or anxiety before or during pregnancy, and forming a plan to reduce this risk.
  • Assessing a woman's risk for developing depression or anxiety during perimenopause, and forming a plan to reduce this risk.

The BWH and BWFH mental health program is associated with the Department of Psychiatry and the Women's Health Center of Excellence at Brigham and Women's Hospital. This is a national center of expertise in women's health, incorporating clinical, teaching and research programs.  

Women's Mental Health Services

Patient Care
  • Women's Mental Health Outpatient Psychiatry Specialties
    • Location: 221 Longwood Avenue. Boston, MA. 02115. To make an appointment, call 617-732-6753
    • Services include: preconception planning, consultation, diagnostic evaluation, medication management and brief psychotherapy for women with mental health problems related to the reproductive cycle, gynecologic conditions, and menopausal transition
    • Our providers: Geena Athappilly, M.D. and Lorna Campbell, LICSW
  • The Fish Center for Women's Health
    • Location: 850 Boylston Street. Chestnut Hill, MA. 02467. To make an appointment, call 617-732-9300
    • Services include: preconception planning, consultation, diagnostic evaluation, medication management and brief psychotherapy for women with mental health problems related to the reproductive cycle, gynecologic conditions, and menopausal transition
    • Our providers: Deborah Knudson-Gonzalez, M.D., Geena Athappilly, M.D., and Kara Brown, M.D.
  • Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Psychiatric Clinic at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital
    • Location: 1153 Centre Street. Jamaica Plain, MA. 02130. To make an appointment, call 617-983-7474
    • Services include: consultation, diagnostic evaluation and treatment for women who are struggling with difficult emotional reactions to infertility and its treatment or women who have mental health problems and infertility.  Patients are treated through infertility work up and treatment, pregnancy and postpartum
    • Our providers: Florina Haimovici, M.D.
  • Reproductive Psychiatry Consultation Service
    • Location: 75 Francis Street. Boston, MA. 02115. To make an appointment: outpatient 617-732-4840, inpatient consultation service 617-732-6727
    • Services include: outpatient and inpatient mental health evaluations and consultations for women who are receiving obstetric and gynecologic services at Brigham and Women's Hospital
    • Our providers: Leena Mittal, M.D.
Research

Women's Hormones and Aging Research Program

  • The Women's Hormones and Aging Research Program (WHARP) is a clinical and translatonal research group that aims to advance our understanding and treatment of symptoms resulting from estrogen withdrawal in the brain.  We study the biological basis of these symptoms as well as their interactions and strategies for optimizing treatment in healthy women during the menopause transition, women undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and using experimental paradigms. Under the direction of Dr. Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc, WHARP is comprised of a project manager, two clinical research coordinators, psychiatry residents, trainees, WMH fellows, and several other affiliated clinicians and junior researchers. WHARP also collaborates with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancer program at DFCI.  Those interested in research opportunities and fellowships related to women’s health and quality of life in women’s cancers should contact us. More information about WHARP.
Training/Education
  • Women's Mental Health Clinical Fellowship
  • Visiting Medical Student Women's Mental Health Elective
    • Overview and goals of elective - This elective is designed to increase students' knowledge of the influence of sex, gender, and reproductive cycle events on psychopathology and psychiatric care, and to augment their skills in assessing and treating psychiatric disorders related to gender and reproduction. It includes concentrated clinical experience with patients with premenstrual, perinatal and perimenopausal psychiatric disorders, as well as patients with infertility, pregnancy loss, and breast and gynecologic cancers. Students also learn how to do preconception planning with patients at risk for perinatal psychiatric problems, and about trauma-informed care for women who have experienced sexual trauma. Students see patients within Women's Mental Health clinical services at BWH and the Fish Center for Women's Health. Students are supervised by faculty within the BWH Women's Mental Health Division. Students work closely with senior residents and a women's mental health fellow, and attend bi-weekly multidisciplinary rounds with attendings, residents and a women's mental health fellow. Students also do a scholarly project, consisting of either a written case report, a written literature review, or a presentation to the Women's Mental Health Division. Students participant in relevant lectures, symposia and Grand Rounds. There is no call.
  • Application for MS-IV Elective
  • Women's Mental Health Elective for Psychiatry Residents
    • Overview and goals of elective - Sex and gender can exert a major influence on the course, expression and treatment of psychiatric disorders. This elective provides opportunies for residents to develop expertise in the psychiatric symptoms linked with female reproductive cycle transitions. The selective emphasizes intensive, focused outpatient clinical work in mental health and perinatal settings, with expert supervision. Residents who choose to may concentrate on special interests with additional faculty and/or at other sites -- e.g. infertility, breast cancer, addiction and trauma in women. Residents who wish to do their scholarly projects on women's mental health topics are encouraged to encompass these projects within the elective; mentoring is available. Through this elective, the hope is that residents acquire expertise in treating psychiatric disorders associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and perimenopause, understand the influence of sex and gender on the expression of major psychiatric illnessess, and the treatment implications of these influences, understand the influence of sex and gender on medical and gynecologic disorders, as they relate to co-morbid psychiatric symptoms and emotional reactions, and develop an in-depth appreciation of the influence of sociocultural gender roles on psychopathology. Depending on available funding, potential sites include the following within BWH, Fish Center for Women's Health, 850 Boylston Street Women's Mental Health Service, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, or a combination.
  • Women's Mental Health Elective for Psychosomatic Fellows
    • Overview and goals of elective - The Brigham and Women's Hospital Psychosomatic Medicine Fellows have the opportunity to gain a breadth and depth of exposure in women's mental health via ambulatory consultation experiences through the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic and Brigham Psychiatric Specialties.  Their consultation experience involves seeing patients on the OB/Gyn services (MFM) as well as outpatient psychiatry clinic (Women's Mental Health Clinic at BPS) for issues such as perinatal mood, anxiety and psychotic disorders.

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