Dr. Laura Miller specializes in helping women with depression who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.

An estimated one in ten adults in the United States is impacted by depression. While depression is a condition that is widely treatable, addressing depression during pregnancy can be more complicated. The key, psychiatrists say, is planning ahead.

“Managing depression during pregnancy is similar to managing a heart condition or other chronic illness,” says Dr. Laura Miller, Director of the Women’s Mental Health Service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital (BWFH). “Planning ahead, prior to conception, is really important.”

As part of pre-conception planning, psychiatrists can help women with a history of depression or other psychiatric disorders to identify risk factors that may increase their symptoms. “Hormonal fluctuations and changes in nutrition, exercise, and sleep can all contribute to depression during and after pregnancy,” says Dr. Miller. “We develop strategies, including behavioral therapies and lifestyle changes, to reduce these risks where possible.”

When evaluating the use of medication during pregnancy, psychiatrists work with women and their OB/GYNs to review the latest findings from scientific studies and weigh the risks and benefits of various treatment approaches. “We want to help patients make informed decisions,” says Dr. Miller. Psychiatrists, in concert with OB/GYNs, also monitor patients and treat mental health issues that may arise during pregnancy and throughout the post-partum period.

“As a team, we are all dedicated to the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby,” says Dr. Miller.

– Jessica F.

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