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Book Forum: Gender Issues   |    
Women’s Mental Health: A Comprehensive Textbook
JUDITH H. GOLD, C.M., M.D., F.R.C.P.C., F.R.A.N.Z.C.P., D.Hum.L.(hc)
Am J Psychiatry 2003;160:1361-1361. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.160.7.1361
View Author and Article Information
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Edited by Susan G. Kornstein and Anita H. Clayton. New York, Guilford Publications, 2002, 638 pp., $65.00.

A textbook on women’s mental health! How far we have come in just two decades; in the 1980s and early 1990s the lack of mention of gender in papers and presentations was commonplace. Research was limited to epidemiological studies. Therefore, I looked forward to reading this new textbook.

Coedited by Drs. Kornstein and Clayton, this book emanates from the Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. The many chapter contributors are from all over the United States and from Canada. The book is divided into five sections: Women’s Psychobiology and Reproductive Life Cycle; Assessment and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders in Women; Psychiatric Consultation With Women; Sociocultural Issues for Women; and Research and Health Policy Issues.

Each chapter within these sections has its own reference list. Some of these lists do not contain references beyond 1999 or 2000, a common shortcoming in textbooks that reflects the length of the publication process. Although understandable, it does limit somewhat the usefulness of chapters such as the first, "Sex Differences in Neuroendocrine and Neurotransmitter Systems," where there is a great deal of current research. In their preface, the editors state that the book is intended as "a comprehensive reference on women’s mental health for clinicians, researchers and students," but the reader should be prepared to find that some chapters will serve to stimulate searches of the more recent literature rather than providing a complete review of the latest research findings.

It is not possible to comment in depth on the many topics covered in this book other than selectively. I found Steiner and Born’s chapter, "Psychiatric Aspects of the Menstrual Cycle," an easy and informative read. It was gratifying to see, in summary, the extensive research into the premenstrual disorders that has been conducted since APA’s DSM-IV workgroup struggled with the concept of premenstrual dysphoric disorder and placed the proposed diagnosis in an appendix for further study.

The use of psychopharmacotherapy during pregnancy and the postpartum period is another area that has seen much recent research. Two chapters review the topics well, pointing out the need to consider the risks of discontinuing medications as well as discussing studies on the outcome of medication use during pregnancy and lactation. This is another area where studies are being published frequently. As I write this review, there are two recent papers in the Journal(1, 2) that will further the knowledge of all who begin by reading this book.

The section on assessment and treatment of psychiatric disorders contains a brief chapter on complementary and alternative medicine. This is an important and timely inclusion. The section dealing with psychiatric consultation will be particularly useful for students and residents. Both this section and the section on sociocultural issues for women raise many important points. However, by necessity, both are brief reviews of important topics. Finally, there is a good discussion of research and health policy issues specific to women.

I found this to be a useful and educational textbook, and I recommend it to those students, residents, and clinicians who want to know more about women’s mental health. I also recommend it to psychiatric educators everywhere as a text for their students.

Hendrick V, Altshuler L: Management of major depression during pregnancy. Am J Psychiatry  2002; 159:1667-1673
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Nulman I, Rovet J, Stewart DE, Wolpin J, Pace-Asciak P, Shuhaiber S, Koren G: Child development following exposure to tricyclic antidepressants or fluoxetine throughout fetal life: a prospective, controlled study. Am J Psychiatry  2002; 159:1889-1895
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
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References

Hendrick V, Altshuler L: Management of major depression during pregnancy. Am J Psychiatry  2002; 159:1667-1673
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
Nulman I, Rovet J, Stewart DE, Wolpin J, Pace-Asciak P, Shuhaiber S, Koren G: Child development following exposure to tricyclic antidepressants or fluoxetine throughout fetal life: a prospective, controlled study. Am J Psychiatry  2002; 159:1889-1895
[PubMed]
[CrossRef]
 
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