That fear of being judged often keeps women silent. “One of the reasons we think that there's undertreatment [of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders] relates to stigma and shame,” says Simone Vigod, M. D. , a psychiatrist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto and a clinical researcher in pregnancy and postpartum mental health at the Women’s College Research Institute. “Women may not be feeling comfortable accessing care and may not even know that they have something going on with them that could even benefit from treatment. A major issue?
But for Valerie it was exactly what she needed. “I was able to take care of my child with the possibility of physical and emotional comfort in a time in which everything was hard," she says. "By being able to manage my postpartum anxiety, telemedicine made it possible for me to enjoy the part of the whole experience that was meant to be enjoyed: my daughter.
Telemedicine is particularly crucial for women in rural areas, where patients tend to seek out care only in emergencies, says Curtis Lowery, M. D. , director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation in Arkansas, and founder of ANGELS, a Medicaid-funded tele-health program for high-risk pregnancy patients that serves rural populations. “We have connectivity all over the state of Arkansas,” he says, “so that psychiatrists can do online clinics and start medication. ” Patients can also use the telemedicine service to connect with lactation consultants who are not readily available across Arkansas.
Once a week, for 55 minutes, over the course of six months, Valerie and her therapist worked through the guilt and trauma she felt after her challenging birth (and a miscarriage she’d experienced prior). “Being able to have this [type of medicine] allows a mother to talk to her health care provider about anything that's going on without even having to get out of her pajamas, let alone packing up a newborn baby,” says Mariea Snell, assistant director of the Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Maryville University and a tele-health clinician. “They're going to be more likely to receive care because they're going to be more likely to engage in it.
Having early and convenient access to treatment was life-changing for Valerie. "[My therapist] assured me that this was actually something very common that happened to women who were suffering from postpartum depression,” she says. “Just knowing that made me feel, like, just 10 times stronger and more secure.
Access treatment without leaving your living room. https://t.co/Jx4Sz3Y2kd— Glamour (@glamourmag) December 4, 2019