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Women Don't Need to Suffer in Silence

New Northwestern Medicine Center uses latest research to treat women with reproductive-related depression

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May 6, 2013 | by Erin White

CHICAGO --- Many women think nothing can be done about destabilizing bouts of depression caused by hormonal fluctuations.

Not so. Northwestern Medicine’s® newly opened Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders will be focused on treating and studying women with depression.

It’s one of only a handful of centers focused on women of all ages who may be suffering from reproductive-related depression. State-of-the art research will be integrated into clinical care to make sure that women with depression receive the care that they need.    

“Women should not suffer in silence,” said Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., the director of the new center. “They can feel better. There are very good and effective treatments for depression and mood changes related to hormones.” 

Wisner is the Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. 

Unlike standard medical clinics, the center will store data on patients’ symptoms, medical and family history and collect biological samples for current and future research studies.

Common reproductive-related depression disorders in women that will be studied and treated at the new center:

  • Depression after first menstrual period: the risk for depression in females doubles that of males after puberty, after a young woman has her first menstrual cycle.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD): a depressive disorder that occurs only one to two weeks before the menstrual cycle.
  • Depression during pregnancy: the prevalence of major depressive disorder during pregnancy is nearly 13 percent.
  • Postpartum depression: with a striking prevalence of nearly 22 percent the year following birth, depression is a frequent complication of childbearing. 
  • Perimenopausal depression: the hormonal instability that occurs during the five years prior to cessation of the menstrual cycle, which can put women at a higher risk of depression.

One in five women will have at least one episode of depression in their lifetimes and women are twice as likely as men to develop depression. Hormonal fluctuations that occur during reproductive milestones can contribute to depression in women and increase the risk for physiological destabilization, affecting functioning and health, both short- and long-term. To schedule an appointment, call 312-695-5060.

Topics: Research