New Clinic Treats Moms-To-Be With Mood Disorders

University Hospital Combines Obstetrics with Psychiatry

All her life, Abbie Krause has wanted to be a mother.

"He’s a dream come true for both me and my husband," she said about her now 7-month old son, Spencer.

But about six months into the pregnancy, she began to have symptoms of a mood disorder.

"I started to feel more and more anxious and had trouble sleeping," said Krause. "I had never really heard of pre-natal depression."

She did hear about the brand-new Perinatal Mood Disorder Clinic at University Hospital, where she worked.

Every mom-to-be at the hospital is now screened for depression, anxiety or other mood disorder.

Then, the new clinic makes it easy to combine care from a nurse-midwife, an obstetrician and a psychiatrist.

"There are women who have come through just tearful, falling apart, and within several sessions we’ve been able to get the women stabilized," said Erika Schwartz, University Hospital’s director of nurse-midwifery.

Psychiatrists say they are trying to remove the stigma of perinatal (the period during pregnancy and shortly after) depression with the clinic operating in the obstetrics setting.

"It feels pretty free and open by that point that this is just part of general care. ‘I might have thyroid problems. I might have depression. I might have diabetes, so this is one thing that’s OK,’" said Dr. Cheryl Chessick, a psychiatrist with the depression center at University Hospital.

Chessick said she plan to start new studies soon at the clinic because mood disorder symptoms are hard to diagnose from normal pregnancy symptoms, and more studies need to be done.

Krause said that during those tough months, the clinic gave her the tools and reassurance she needed.

"You could do it all at one time and one place, and knowing they’re talking to each other and coordinating your care is a really big benefit," she said.

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