Before, during, and after pregnancy, mental health is just as important as physical health. For this episode of Healthful Woman, Dr. Fox is joined by Dr. Susan Park, a reproductive psychiatrist, who talks about the awareness factor of your wellbeing, from your biological, psychological, and social health. Although medication is often part of a holistic approach to treatment for issues such as depression and anxiety, Dr. Park explains that creating a supportive environment both internally and externally, mentally and socially, is the key to sustained healing from chronic conditions.
“Reproductive Psychiatry: A Holistic Approach” – with Dr. Susan Park MD, ABIHM
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Dr. Fox: Welcome to the “Healthful Woman” podcast, the fastest-growing podcast in women’s health. Today’s Monday, June 6th, 2022. I’m joined today by Dr. Susan Park to talk about reproductive psychiatry, a holistic approach. As all of you listeners know, we frequently discuss mental health in this podcast. And that’s for a good reason. It’s really important, both overall and in pregnancy. I do believe that mental health has been getting more and more attention, but we still have ways to go. So I think you’re gonna enjoy today’s podcast. Dr. Park is a reproductive psychiatrist in New York City, and she’s a terrific doctor, and podcast guest. She has a great perspective on mental health as a part of a holistic approach to overall health. All right, enjoy today’s podcast. Thanks for listening. See you all next week.
Welcome to today’s episode of “Healthful Woman” a podcast designed to explore topics in women’s health at all stages of life. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OBGYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist practicing in New York City. At “Healthful Woman,” I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness.
All right, Dr. Susan Park, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. How are you doing today?
Dr. Park: Thank you for the invite. I am excited to be here and to have this great opportunity to talk about my work.
Dr. Fox: I guess we got connected through patients. I think, I don’t know, several years ago, I saw patients and I’m like, “Oh, who’s your psychiatrists?” And they said, “Dr. Susan Park.” I said, “Oh, who’s that?” And then since then, I feel like we’ve had a lot of overlap clinically. Over the years.
Dr. Park: Yes, I send all of my high-risk patients to you. And they absolutely love you and your clinic.
Dr. Fox: Well, it is mutual the patients that I see love seeing you. And it’s a pleasure to work with you. And I thought that it would be a great idea to have you on the podcast. And I think our podcast is focused a lot on mental health. I mean, obviously, we deal with a whole range of topics, but mental health comes up a lot. And I think, fortunately, this is something that most or many, or all, possibly, of the listeners as a podcast appreciate how critical it is and how important is. But I think a lot of people may not quite grasp who needs to see a psychiatrist when they’re pregnant, and what exactly is a reproductive psychiatrist, and what do you do, and where are those lines drawn? And I think it just would be really fascinating to get your perspective as someone who is a psychiatrist, but also spends a lot of your time specifically regarding, you know, pregnancy planning, pregnancy postpartum, what we call reproductive psychiatry. And since I know that, you know, your patients adore you, I figured you’re gonna be great on the podcast.
Dr. Park: Thank you.
Dr. Fox: So I think that’s what we’re gonna do today. So who is Susan Park? Where are you from, where did you train, and how’d you get into this line of work?
Dr. Park: I was born in South Korea and grew up there till we move to the U.S. when I was in third grade. My father used to work for Samsung, and they basically told him go and work in California for five years and come back. Somehow, that became a start of our stay in the U.S. I went to high school in California, came to Maryland to attend Johns Hopkins for university. And then I’ve been in New York since then for both medical school and residency. And that’s where I’m doing private practice right now. I became interested in psychiatry, I think, because even before I went to medical school, I had a lot of interest in psychiatry and a keen, I would say, combination of my background as a Buddhist and also taking some time off between college and medical school coming across an opportunity to work as a clinical research assistant for the Department of Geriatric Psychiatry at UCLA in California. As a Buddhist, this concept of human suffering and quality of life and being mindful of decisions you make, that really resonated with me. And psychiatry is really focusing on quality of life, suffering, and having an awareness.
Dr. Fox: That’s really interesting that you mentioned that because I think a lot of people sort of think of psychiatry traditionally as sort of, like, diagnosis, then therapy/medication to, like, fix that. And almost sort of, you know, how we comprehend sort of general medicine in general, you know, disease, treatment, cure. And they view psychiatry in the same light and there, obviously, is some truth to that. But, you know, you’re talking about concepts that are much broader, you know, this idea of, you know, wellness and this idea of, you know, mindfulness. And that’s been brought up a lot in the non-psychiatry world, you know, we hear a lot about that just from other people in different disciplines and different areas. And people think of that and we’re all like, you know, yoga and meditation. But how do you bring that into psychiatry?
Dr. Park: Yeah. So you know, when my patients come see me for the first time, the common statement, I say, is, “Listen, I don’t have any blood work or X-ray of your brain that’s going to tell me what you have. So how I tell what’s happening with you is understanding your history, what’s going on with you biologically, what’s going on with you psychologically, what’s going on with you socially?” And mental well-being is really comprised of three different components biological, psychological, and social. And often when you have that psychological and social support, biologically, even if you have the predisposition, you may not need medication. But when psychologically and socially you’re struggling and you have the biological predisposition, that’s when medication comes in. And often we talk about how, you know, there’s the medication component, which is the biological component, but the psychological component, the psychotherapy, it’s really focusing on having an awareness of your struggle, what is it that you’re feeling, how that leads to a certain action. And having an awareness can lead to actions and changes that you may want. So it’s a very empowering process. And that’s how I explain psychiatric conditions or illnesses, that it’s really combination. So there’s that component for medication, but also psychotherapy, as well as these other holistic approaches, right, such as making sure that you are taking care of yourself, making sure you have the social support, all those three components are very important.
Dr. Fox: It’s really interesting to hear you talk about that because what struck me while you were speaking, is that, at least, what I have noticed is that there’s been a push in mental health, sort of, away from the social and psychological components into a purely biological model. And I think the intentions there were very good, which is to say, you know, mental health, like, is not different from any other condition, we have to treat it seriously. Just like you wouldn’t blame a diabetic for having diabetes, or blame someone with cancer for having cancer, you shouldn’t blame people for having depression or anxiety or OCD. You know, it’s not under their control. It’s not their will, you know, it doesn’t show weakness. And so people said, you know, we can’t think of these as conditions of the mind, the psychology, think of it more as a biologic condition, biologic brain disorder, such that they get the appropriate treatment and consideration and, you know, they’re not stigmatized in a way. And I think that’s a good, you know, idea. But what I’m hearing you say is that that’s not really correct. And we may not be serving people well, if we forget about the fact that, yes, social and psychological really play a huge part in it, in the biologic.
Dr. Park: Yes. Yes. You know, a patient of mine… A lot of times my patients give me the perfect description of how they feel. And one time a patient had described that her anxiety and depression, it feels like walking in a bowl of very highly viscous oatmeal. So no matter how hard she pushed it, really hard to walk. But with medication, it takes an edge off. So that oatmeal doesn’t feel as viscous, but it’s still up to her to push herself to walk. So it’s really the combination of biological and psychological. And you’re absolutely right, in order to destigmatize psychiatric conditions, I too compare it to diabetes, thyroid or other high blood pressure, other medical illnesses. There’s a real biological component, but there has to be awareness, psychologically and socially. And combination of those three will really lead to sustain the mission of symptoms.
Dr. Fox: Listen, I think that’s really fascinating. That’s interesting. And I think that it’s, you know, it just points to the fact that these are really complex issues that people have, it’s not always so straightforward. You know, number one, what is the right diagnosis? And number two, what is the right “treatment?” Because there’s a lot that goes into it, and how much of it is biologic versus, you know, social, psychological will dictate sort of where you need to focus. And I wanted to ask you because you mentioned, you know, growing up Buddhist and that it had a real impact on your decision to go into psychiatry. One of the ways in which you’re unique as a physician, at least a medical physician here, is that you’re also board certified in holistic integrative medicine. So first of all, can you explain what that is? And second of all, explain how you came to do that.
Dr. Park: Yes, the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine was originally founded in 1996, with, I believe, the intent to expose physicians of various disciplines to different integrative and holistic approaches to medicine. So it’s really looking at an illness, not as a branch of a tree. But looking at the tree as a whole. I became very interested in this field because I grew up being exposed as a child to acupuncture and herbal tonics growing up in Korea. I’ve had it myself. My parents were frequently taking ginseng tonics, right? So there was a special interest in that. And a colleague of mine was practicing this kind of psychiatry in a more holistic way. And she had recommended that I attend this annual conference, and I attended the 14th Annual Conference hosted by the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. And after attending the conference, a lot of what they were practicing resonated with what I believed in and how I wanted to treat my patients.
So I became board-certified. Since then, I believe this particular organization has been incorporated into the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine. And they offer a formal fellowship as well as learning curriculums and conferences. And it’s a community where people can kind of talk about in addition to more traditional western approach to these specific conditions, what else can we do? So in my practice, we’d often talk about, in addition to medication, psychotherapy is important. Self-care is important. And self-care would mean healthy diet, sleep, meditation, exercising, right. So there’s so much more that we can talk about as integrated, complementary approach.
Dr. Fox: And do you find that people seek you out because of this, or is it just something that once they come to see you, you sort of bring that to the table in your overall care of that patient?
Dr. Park: Both, I do have patients who specifically come see me because they’re more interested in holistic approach. And then I do have patients who come see me for more traditional psychiatric treatment, and we incorporate a lot of holistic approach. So it depends. The issue is…so when someone has very purely based on biological component, no amount of vitamins and herbs and supplements is gonna make a huge difference. It’s important that we do have healthy diet and exercise and meditation. But there are times I’ve had patients who say, “I make sure I run, I make sure I sleep, I make sure I eat healthy and do yoga and meditation. Yet, I can’t stop this anxious feeling.” Right? So it’s really the combination of both. And when you just focus on treating the anxiety and forgetting the fact that, you know, anxiety is just part of that tree, that we have to look at the tree as a whole, look at the root, the leaf, everything. That’s my approach, looking at that person as more…trying to provide comprehensive treatment.
Dr. Fox: How is it that you got interested in reproductive psychiatry?
Dr. Park: I went into medical school knowing I wanted to do psychiatry, and, you know, NYU, we really have an amazing psychiatry program. We have different disciplines that’s really good, like addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, child, but they didn’t…you know, I went into psychiatry thinking I wanted to do geriatric psychiatry, but we didn’t have geriatric department. And I’ve always been interested in OBGYN as well. And it was a great combination, and we had an elective. One of the greatest in reproductive psychiatry, Shari Lusskin, was offering this elective to residents. And I signed up for it and realized that it was really rewarding to work with women through pregnancy and different reproductive lifecycle and help them figure out and feel validated and feel reassured that the treatment that they’re receiving is in their and the baby’s best interest.
Dr. Fox: What percentage of your practice now would you say is reproductive psychiatry versus general psychiatry?
Dr. Park: I would say 90%.
Dr. Fox: Wow.
Dr. Park: You know, but you have to understand, you know, reproductive psychiatry is a field of psychiatry with special focuses on emotional needs and treatment of psychiatric symptoms during the reproductive life cycle.
Dr. Fox: Right, right. So they don’t have to be pregnant. It could be in between pregnancies, before pregnancies.
Dr. Park: Yes.
Dr. Fox: I got it. Okay.
Dr. Park: So we’re really referring to whole span of reproductive life cycle. So I have young women coming to see me for anxiety or depression relating to their menstruation cycle, I may have women coming to see me for perimenopause or menopause symptoms. So it’s really…what’s interesting is also each stage of the reproductive life cycle is characterized by hormonal fluctuation or social mood changes. And my job and my primary goal is to empower patients with information to help them make informed decisions about their care throughout each stage.
Dr. Fox: How would someone either know or decide to see someone like you who specializes in reproductive psychiatry versus just a psychiatrist, sort of a general psychiatrist? Is that something that you feel a lot of people really understand the difference or is it frequently that people are referred to you from a psychiatrist saying specifically, I need some extra help?
Dr. Park: I would say most commonly, people do come to a reproductive psychiatrist referred for treatment. So, you know, I often hear from patients that they didn’t realize there’s a specialty called Reproductive Psychiatry. So I mostly receive referrals from other physicians and therapists. Therapists often refer patients for medication evaluation, despite engaging in psychotherapy when patients continue to struggle with symptoms, or there’s really no further progress in their psychotherapy. Then I have also patients who have been stable on medication and now are considering pregnancy, and they would like to understand their options. And they may be referred by their psychiatrist, their other fertility specialist, or obstetrician. And that’s how they come to me. Mostly.
Dr. Fox: What is your guess of, you know, for people who train in psychiatry and practice in psychiatry, why would they refer the patient to you? Is it because they’re just, you know, they just don’t have a lot of experience with women who are in reproductive years? Or is it sort of all cases or just more complex cases? I’m just trying to understand how people would sort of sort that out themselves.
Dr. Park: Yeah, I think, you know, it’s hard to speculate. I think it’s combination of what you said, there may be some liability, because here we are taking care of both patient and their baby, right. So there is that dual role that we’re playing. And also, I think we just have the best amount of data. And it’s hard to sort through that amount of data. And it’s really hard to tell someone something is 100% safe. There’s no such thing as 100% safe pregnancy. So a lot of what we do is sorting through vast amount of data that’s not perfect, but reassuring. And based on their own individual psychiatric history, we help them make a decision that makes sense. And it’s really weighing, what are potential risks of not being treated versus what are potential risks of these medications during pregnancy, both to the mom and the baby. So I think because of that this is a complex process where we have to talk about, what are potential risks if you’re not being treated? What will happen to you, what do you look like, can you function? And then helping them make a decision that makes sense, right, for both the patient and her family. So there’s a lot of weighing that we need to do and I think the profit can be complex.
Dr. Fox: I mean, in my experience, because obviously, I see a lot of women, some of whom have no psychiatrist or are not on medication. Some have their psychiatrist they’ve been following with for however much time, and others are seeing reproductive psychiatrists such as yourself. And I guess, you know, what I found is amongst, I’m gonna say, general psychiatrists, which is not a knock, like you practice psychiatry, you know, some of them are comfortable and some of them are not comfortable treating pregnant women, maybe just from their training or their experience, or just what their practice is like, or just their own personality.
And so I find that, you know, the first group of women that get referred to reproductive psychiatrists are when their psychiatrists happen to be someone who’s not comfortable treating pregnant women. And I think the second is frequently if there’s more than one medication that’s needed. I think a lot of psychiatrists are very comfortable with someone who’s on, you know, Zoloft, and they’re just adjusting the dose and everyone’s on board. But if someone’s you know, on Zoloft, and they’re also on Lamictal, and they’re also on, you know, whatever it is, they’re on some sort of, you know, Ritalin and there’s two or three medications, I think a lot of them are just sort of, you know, what, maybe I’ll send to someone else who does this a lot in pregnancy. That’s sort of been my experience. And, you know, similarly, if I’m seeing someone who either I think might need to start medication, or is on a low dose of medication, but hasn’t seen a psychiatrist in a while, you know, how hard I’m gonna push them to see a reproductive psychiatrist, you know, either it’s fine for everyone to or if it’s, like, maybe slightly less convenient, I’ll really push them more. Again, if those same circumstances based on who their psychiatrist is, or how many medications they’re on, because I know a lot of people that we’ve seen together, sometimes around 2, 3, 4, 5 medications to keep them well. And that is complicated, as you said, is very complex to sort through all of that.
Dr. Park: You know, also what’s more complex is, during pregnancy, the difference is there’s so many different factors that can impact the psychiatric symptoms, right. So hormones is one of them, but how you feel during pregnancy. So as you know, you’re the expert here, but first trimester, a lot of times people do feel more tired, they have nausea, they don’t feel great. They’re sleeping a lot. And those symptoms sometimes are the same symptoms one can have when they’re feeling depressed. And it’s hard to tease out for these patients. Am I feeling depressed, and that’s the reason I’m sleeping a lot, or am I sleeping a lot because I’m pregnant, right? So there’s still things that, as a reproductive psychiatrist, that we can help them and guide them to understand that, hey, this is what happens in first trimester. This is what you can expect in second trimester. This is third trimester.
And then also, because of the sheer experience and volume of patients we work with, they’re very common themes that come up, right. When they start to go back to work, that’s when there’s an uptick in anxiety after maternity leave. When they start to wean up from nursing, that’s when they start to have more anxiety. And because we knew that, we are looking out for things like that and we talk about it. We talk about how to get most support postpartum, what can we do to increase the psychological and social component so that, biologically, you are on the lowest effective dose during pregnancy.
Dr. Fox: In your practice, what would you say is the most common reason people are coming to see you in terms of is it medication adjustments or is it for sort of a new evaluation, or if there’s a specific diagnosis that you see a lot of, whether it’s depression or anxiety? I’m just curious, like, you know, on a typical day, what is the most common issues you’re dealing with, with your patients?
Dr. Park: I would say the most common will be, the terminology I use, pre-pregnancy consultation. So patients who’ve been on medication feeling stable, would like to know, can I continue this medication during pregnancy? That’s most common. Then I do see patients where they’ve never been on medication and would like to consider medication as an option. And obviously, they feel a little nervous and would like to know more data and information on that. And occasionally, I also get patients who would like some adjustment. Or they’ve been stable on one medication and been doing well prescribed by an internist, primary care physician, and now they’re having worsening symptoms and would like a tune-up, as they call it, adjustment. So it’s a variety of reasons, but mostly, I would say pre-pregnancy consultation. Which when they call me for that reason, that’s my, I mean, I get very excited because usually when patients come in mid-pregnancy and say, “I’ve been on this medication, and now I’m pregnant, I don’t know if I should be on this medication or not.” Right. That to me, that’s the most difficult. Because I kind of wish they could come see me before getting pregnant so we can talk about options, so they can go into pregnancy feeling confident, feeling validated, feeling reassured.
Dr. Fox: Yeah, I was gonna say that, that warms my heart that the majority of people you see are pre-pregnancy because that’s the best. I mean, that’s one of the things we preach all the time, like, you know, not everybody knows, right? Some people only learn that they have anxiety or depression or OCD when they are pregnant. Okay, fine. So what are you gonna do? But most people know going into pregnancy, what their struggles are, what their diagnoses are, what meds they’re on. And having it discussed and plan before pregnancy is always gonna be better than waiting until you’re pregnant. And I think also, and, you know, definitely correct me if I’m wrong, but sort of in my experience with these pre-pregnancy consultations, the majority of the time, they’re just reassuring. They’re saying. “No, like, you’re okay with what you’re on. If you’re well, stay on it,” it’s not that usual we say “Oh, my God. We have to change this medication, it’s horribly dangerous.” Like, it’s very rare that that happens.
Dr. Park: Yes, it’s very rare.
Dr. Fox: And I think most people get quite reassured that, okay, like, this is gonna be all right. And then they can get followed during pregnancy and adjusted as necessary, their regimen.
Dr. Park: Yes, you’re absolutely right. That being said, quite often, they get this just one-line statement from their physician saying, “Oh, it’s perfectly fine for you to be on that medication.” And when they come, what I do is I break it down. So we talk about what can we expect from the first trimester, right? What’s the data showing medication prenatal exposure during first trimester, second trimester, third trimester? So we really put the data down for them. And because we do that, it feels more reassuring than just to say, “It’s okay, you can be on that medication.”
Dr. Fox: Right, right. No, that makes a lot of sense. And what would you say is either the most or one of the most challenging situations that you face on a regular basis? Like, which consultations are really difficult to figure out?
Dr. Park: I would say, the most challenging situation is when women feel that they need to be on this medication and they don’t have the support from their partners.
Dr. Fox: Oh, there is social, all right.
Dr. Park: That’s the challenging part where, you know, we talk about how, yes, the pregnancy, or having a baby is really…it involves both the patient and her partner. That being said, this is about her body, and what she goes through for 40 weeks. So how do we support her, making sure that both she and the baby are safe? And that’s really hard when they don’t feel like they can have or they have the support of their partners.
Dr. Fox: Wow. Yeah, I would imagine that’s pretty tough. I mean, messaging is really difficult because people get messaging from their loved ones, the people they live with, from, obviously, the internet, from wherever they get information. And the messaging is all over the place, right? You can google or have a friend and they’ll say everything correct, “Yes, you know, there’s a medication and this is the risk, and maybe you need it, maybe you don’t, yada, yada.” And then you could find something that’s way all over the place. Like someone says, “Oh, yes, it’s all perfectly safe,” or, “They’re all horribly dangerous,” and everything in between. And I think that, based on what messaging women have heard before having these conversations, they come in with such mixed feelings about it. And that must be hard to sort out when either someone comes and says, “Oh, I know, these medications are horribly dangerous, I can’t be on them,” or, “I know these medications are perfectly safe and I’m totally fine taking them.” And you have to sort of unravel all that and then, you know, sort of break her down and build her back up, so to speak, in that consultation.
Dr. Park: Yes, as you say, you can find anything and everything on internet. And if you Google, you can go down the Google hole. So you know, one of the things we talk about is not Googling and always coming to me, and I can provide information or any scientific research that they want. And we can talk about that, but not going to Google and going down that rabbit hole. But when someone knows they need to be on medication and they do well on medication, I think it’s easier for them to accept this treatment plan. But when someone’s feeling very anxious and nothing feels like the perfect choice, that’s where they get stuck. And part of anxiety is having decision paralysis, right. And nothing seems like good enough of a decision, good enough a choice. Like, “What if? What if I do that? But what if I do this?” So they get stuck in that thought process. And that’s when even we often talk about using medication plus CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, really working on their thought process. That yes, we don’t know. There’s nothing that’s 100% safe in pregnancy. That being said, what is the best outcome here, what’s the best choice here? And really working with that, and providing support with combination of medication and therapy is really the best way.
Dr. Fox: What are some of the common misconceptions you think are out there, either that you hear from your patients, or you just, you know, read online or hear from friends and family about sort of this topic, about pregnancy and mental health and medication use?
Dr. Park: You know, there are two common misconceptions that I hear often. The first one is that hormones released during pregnancy are protective to women, and they don’t have any psychiatric symptoms, and they can lead to feeling happy and emotionally stable, that glowing, right, the radiating glowing pregnant woman misconception. And actually, that’s not correct. Studies have shown that up to 20% of women can suffer from mood or anxiety during pregnancy and postpartum. And the most vulnerable are those with a history of psychiatric illness, who discontinue medication during pregnancy. So that’s the first misconception that I hear often.
The second one, and this is what I was referring to as a challenging clinical situation, when patients are told that anxiety and depression can be just managed by changing your mind. “Just change how you feel, you can will your mind to feel differently. Just imagine happy thoughts. You don’t have to feel depressed, you can just think about happy things. Do something that will make you happy.” And I think that’s when, as we talked about, the biological component, ignoring the real biological component, and telling them that during pregnancy, do your best don’t take medication, just think differently, do other things that will make you less depressed. And then after that, then you can take medication. And it’s really forgetting the fact that pregnancy leads to postpartum. And being depressed during pregnancy puts you at a higher risk of postpartum depression. And that’s when you have to be available emotionally to attach with your baby. So it’s really just, I guess, not being able to see the bigger picture, that you want to go into pregnancy feeling stable, you want to feel stable during pregnancy, therefore, you can be available postpartum
Dr. Fox: In your time, right, in the field of psychiatry, both in your training and now in practice, you know, you’ve been doing this for a while, where do you think that we’re doing a good job, or that we really have been improving over the past several years with mental health and pregnancy? Like, what are we doing right?
Dr. Park: I think there’s a lot of awareness about this. And it really makes me happy, when, you know, like this, I get invited to talk about it, right, with this different discipline. When my patients… You know, often I am their primary team. I’m there to support them so when they go pick up their medication, the pharmacist doesn’t give them hard time. How often do I hear patients going to pick up medication, and the pharmacist say, “Well, you’re pregnant, you know that right?” And they can…
Dr. Fox: No, I didn’t know that. Hey, thanks for reminding me. Yeah.
Dr. Park: That can happen. And I’ve had patients where they will call me from the pharmacy saying the pharmacist will not give me my medication because I’m pregnant. I mean, that happens less so now, but it used to happen more often. And I would have to just call the pharmacist and say, “I understand. I’m a reproductive psychiatrist and this is what we talked about. She’s fully aware of X, Y, and Z. Please release her medication.” So that happens less, but I am primarily there so when they’re being questioned by other clinicians or other professional, that they can say, “I have someone. I have a reproductive psychiatrist that I talk to. Thank you, but no, thank you.” But what we’re doing really well now is that supportive feeling that my patients get from other clinicians as well, that their OB, their fertility specialists are on board and recognize that their emotional well-being is very important. And in order to achieve that, to remain safe and stable during pregnancy, if medication is indicated, then that’s the way to go. And that really makes me happy because then it’s a concerted team effort, and we’re able to provide consistent message to pregnant women. You know, what they just want to do is they want to have healthy pregnancy.
Dr. Fox: On the other side of the coin, where do we still need to improve?
Dr. Park: It’s starting early with patients and really helping them understand that the choices that they are making is in their best interest, and helping them feeling validated and reassured, and working with young women at an early age to help them manage their depression, anxiety better, whether it means medication, medication plus therapy, or more holistic approaches, combination of all that.
Dr. Fox: Wow, Dr. Susan Park. Susan, thank you so much, first of all, for coming on the podcast. But thank you for just being. I really appreciate having you and doctors like you around. You know, reproductive psychiatry is kind of a niche field, but so critical. I mean, in my line of work, we are so thrilled when patients who have mental health struggles or are on medications have either consulted with you or are following with you. Because again, they have a really good awareness of what’s going on, what they need, what they don’t need, how they could be helped. And we, as the OBs have someone to talk to when things get challenging, “Hey, she’s doing worse, she’s doing better. How should we adjust her medication after she delivers?” You know, because things change. And it just…I really feel that what you do bring so much to the table for allowing these women, like you said, to have healthy pregnancies, both for them and for their babies. Because it’s not easy, it could be very complicated. And it requires someone who knows what they’re doing, frankly.
Dr. Park: Thank you. Thank you so much. I mean, what you’re doing is amazing, making sure to see women, not just their pregnancy, but how do you maintain healthy pregnancy is making sure that they’re emotionally stable. So I really appreciate this opportunity.
Dr. Fox: Well, thank you for that. I really appreciate it. Obviously, if people want to find you, you’re in New York City. And you have a website, susanparkmd.com to find you, to learn more about you, obviously, if someone wants to make an appointment with you. But that’s just another way to find Dr. Park. So thank you again for coming on the podcast. I really appreciate it.
I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast with Dr. Park. After we recorded Dr. Park emailed me and wanted to add one thing, so I’m going to read it here. This is Dr. Park speaking. “I thought more about your last question. I want to say that we can be more thoughtful when starting medications in young girls and women of reproductive potential as they may be on those medications during pregnancy, and therefore it is important to consider reproductive safety when selecting the medication in the first place.” Well, thanks Dr. Park for that additional lesson. I totally agree that whenever any medication is prescribed to a woman who may become pregnant in the next few years, it is imperative to take that into account. All right. Thanks, everyone for listening. See you all next week.
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