Mood and anxiety symptoms commonly accompany reproductive events in women, including puberty, the premenstrual phase of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, assisted reproduction, and menopause. When reproductive events are associated with significant mood symptoms, distress, and disability, they are considered reproductive-related mood disorders. Through both my research and clinical work, I strive to promote health and wellbeing among women experiencing reproductive-related mood disorders.
My research focuses on the impact of ovarian hormones on behavior and brain function in women. My previous work has demonstrated that estrogen and progesterone play a role in bulimia nervosa, smoking behavior, and postpartum depression. I am currently conducting two projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Foundation of Hope using functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine how estrogen and progesterone influence emotion and reward processing. This research may improve our understanding of how hormonal changes across the lifespan precipitate affective dysfunction, but not all, women. I also hope that by contributing to our knowledge of the biological basis of depression, this work may also serve to reduce the stigma and self-blame associated with mental illness in women.
As associate director of behavioral health for the UNC Center for Women's Mood Disorders, my clinical work focuses on mindfulness, acceptance, and value-based action as methods of promoting wellbeing and vitality. I specialize in the use of acceptance and commitment therapy, interpersonal therapy, and behavioral health interventions for mood, anxiety, and chronic health problems in women. I conduct psychotherapy in the UNC Women's Mood Disorders Outpatient Clinic and in the Perinatal Psychiatry Inpatient Unit. I train and supervise psychology interns and postdoctoral fellows in the use of empirically supported psychotherapies for mood and anxiety disorders in women.
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