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Mental Health Program Puts Women’s Minds and Worries at Ease

The mind and body are interconnected in ways the medical community is only beginning to understand. Mental health and hormonal fluctuations have a tremendous effect on women’s bodies – and changes in women’s bodies over the course of their lives greatly influence their mental health.

Following three decades of research, the field of reproductive psychiatry has emerged to marry our understanding of mental health issues (sleep disorders, depression, etc.) with what we know about physical changes that occur over the course of a woman’s life (menses, childbirth, menopause).

The result is astonishing, welcoming and greatly needed.

“There is a huge stigma about mental illness, particularly around new mothers,” said Hoag Women’s Mental Health program director Patricia De Marco Centeno, M.D. “What we’re doing at Hoag is creating a supportive infrastructure to treat women who are struggling and who feel unnecessary guilt and isolation.”

“We educate the patient and the family that there is nothing they did to cause their mental health issues, that they’re not alone and that we are here to help. When you educate people about those three things, they immediately feel relieved.”

Hoag’s Women’s Mental Health Program will provide state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment of psychiatric disorders associated with reproductive changes, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), pregnancy-associated mood disturbance, postpartum psychiatric illness, and peri- and post-menopausal depression.

The program will work in concert with obstetricians/gynecologists, primary care physicians and other doctors to provide scientifically sound and clinically useful information to help caregivers and patients alike in such areas as:

  • Managing pre-existing depression and other mental health issues during and following pregnancy.
  • Helping patients explore lifestyle changes, pharmacological and/or therapeutic treatments for the physical and psychological issues that come with menopause.
  • Treating the depression and anxiety surrounding infertility.

The reproductive psychiatrist is able to scrutinize emerging data and present it to patients and their treating physicians in a way that is clinically relevant, Dr. De Marco Centeno explained.

Dr. De Marco Centeno said she is excited to bring her expertise to Hoag, where so much innovative and thoughtful work is being done to offer women the most advanced and comprehensive care.

“What attracted me to Hoag is the passion for women’s health,” she said. “They gave importance to the field by building an infrastructure that would validate women as they struggled with illness. It is a very impressive level of commitment and a validation of what it means to focus on women’s health.”