At MGH, we have Rounds weekly. For 2-3 hours per week, we discuss clinical cases, papers that come out in our field, and discuss our research. We have a relatively large group of perinatal psychiatrists, all of whom do clinical work, as well as social workers and a psychologist who regularly join us.
This past month, we had the pleasure of having blogger and patient advocate Katherine Stone join us. Katherine has founded and runs the website Postpartum Progress and the non-profit Postpartum Progress, Inc. Katherine is well known to our group, some of whom have known her for a long time, and others who know her through her blog. Her blog has received much critical acclaim, and she has leveraged social media to help countless women over the last seven years. She has created a site that provides information and support of a community all at once to women suffering anywhere in the world from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
Katherine is indeed a “Warrior Mom,” as she would put it. We had a wonderful meeting with her, and she shared her energy, passion, and experience. One comment she made was that she is frustrated that women email her today with the same experiences and questions that she received seven years ago. She is happy women are reaching out as individuals, but disappointed that the field of perinatal mental health has not advanced enough to change the needs of women with perinatal psychiatric problems. One of the themes of the emails she receives is that women have difficulty finding health care providers who are educated about perinatal depression and anxiety and are willing to treat it.
She also shared with us that lobbying for support for postpartum depression is challenging, because leaders in the field have not yet formed a cohesive systematic approach to diagnosis and treatment. Many disorders that we regularly treat – such as postpartum depression and postpartum OCD – are not recognized as diagnoses. There has still been little systematic research in the area of perinatal mental health, and clinical care is far from standardized.
As much as Katherine can accomplish, she cannot do it alone! To learn more about Katherine Stone’s work, please see her website postpartumprogress.com.