Womens Mental Health | During & After Pregnancy | MedStar Health

Support for women before, during, and after their pregnancy

Medstar Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry, in conjunction with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, offers a unique program for women. This program provides outpatient evaluation and treatment for psychiatric disorders and problems of adjustment to women in their childbearing years.  

Our program recognizes the importance of providing specialized mental health care for women, particularly surrounding pregnancy and childbirth. In doing so, we value a woman’s unique biology and rich emotional life, as well as the centrality of social relationships. 

When being a mom isn’t what you expected

What if being a mom isn’t what you expected? About 10 to 20 percent or of new moms experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder (PMAD), which can begin any time during pregnancy or the first year after childbirth. PMADs are treatable illnesses that can cause feelings of sadness, guilt, indifference, anxiety, and/or intrusive thoughts. It might feel like having a baby is too hard, or you wonder if you’re a bad mom—but it is in fact an illness that will get better with help.  

Perinatal mood or anxiety disorders include postpartum depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or postpartum psychosis.  

Medication management

For some women, psychiatric medications will be a necessary part of treatment. In those cases, our psychiatrists, who have expertise in treating this specific population, are available.  

We provide initial diagnostic evaluations, psychoeducation, expert second opinions, and collaboration with other treatment providers involved in the woman’s care toward providing a multidisciplinary treatment plan. Family members or partners may also be involved in consultations. 

Conditions

  • Depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy 

  • Postpartum depression

  • Management of psychiatric disorders in pregnancy 

  • Complicated pregnancies 

  • Pregnancy loss 

  • Transition to motherhood 

  • Balancing personal and professional life 

  • Relationship problems 

Our providers

Aimee Danielson, PhD

Director, Women’s Mental Health Program, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

Aimee Danielson, PhD, is the director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. She is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health issues. Arriving at Georgetown in 2008, Dr. Danielson’s unique approach to the provision of specialized evaluation, and treatment for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, resulted in the creation of the Women’s Mental Health Program. In addition to her clinical practice, she is an assistant professor within the medical school and teaches medical students and residents on the motherhood transition and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

Dr. Danielson received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia and earned her doctorate in clinical health psychology from the University of Miami in 2002. She completed her clinical internship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, followed by a one-year fellowship program in women’s mental health. During these training years, she began specializing in the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders in pregnant and postpartum women, and became particularly interested in working with women with postpartum depression. Since then, she has remained committed to helping women experiencing difficulties with the transition to motherhood by providing consultation, ongoing individual therapy, couples counseling, and group therapy for pregnant and postpartum women and couples. Dr. Danielson has expertise in cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, as well as insight-oriented approaches to treatment.

Nicole Perras, MD

Dr. Nicole Perras is a psychiatrist who specializes in Maternal Mental Health and Reproductive Psychiatry. She joined the faculty at MedStar Georgetown University in 2016 and is working primarily in the Georgetown Women’s Mental Health Program. Her main focus is on the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders during pregnancy and in the postpartum period and supporting women through transition stages such as infertility and motherhood. Dr. Perras also practices at Mary’s Center and Washington Hospital Center and is currently working to develop perinatal mental health programs at these institutions. In addition to her work in maternal mental health, Dr. Perras also sees adult patients in general psychiatry and supervises resident psychiatrists in the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital psychiatry clinics. Dr. Perras received her medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and she completed her psychiatry resident training at George Washington University Hospital.