A Focus on Women's Lives

A model of wellness that centers on an in-depth understanding of women. Examining the contribution of hormones on mood and anxiety through the years and during life transitions. Addressing the family-work-life balance and the presence of gender preconceptions in a changing social landscape. We aim to create a new definition of normal, based on the real experiences of women today.



It was thought that pregnancy was protective against psychiatric illness. We now know that the reality is more nuanced. Management of mental health during pregnancy is complex, as medications may carry risks to both, mother and child. Conversely, inadequate treatment can lead to deleterious effects of stress hormones on the fetus. Dr. Lerner takes the time to understand the pregnant woman's experience and considers her medical needs and those of her child. Decisions regarding treatment are made collaboratively, ensuring that you have the necessary information to fully understand your options.



Women have been facing increasing mental health difficulties during the postpartum phase. Such issues are as much a result of recent social shifts, as an individual's hormonal shifts. The family with one or two adults concurrently managing work and child rearing is a relatively new phenomenon. In much of the world today, and until recently in the West, the community was significantly more involved. There was a larger group of adults involved in obtaining and sharing resources and in supporting each other as parents. In today's American society, the postpartum phase is frequently an isolating experience. Along with insufficient sleep, the experience of being a new parent with inadequate assistance can lead to feeling overwhelmed, and is a significant contributor to post-partum depression, anxiety, and even psychosis. Enlisting the help of others, including a mental health professional, can help transform an overwhelming post-partum period into a positive experience of motherhood.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD is often overlooked in girls, and is frequently not addressed until adulthood. Parents, teachers, and doctors may miss the signs because of differences in how girls and boys exhibit ADHD symptoms. In girls and women, distractibility is frequently experienced as a silent, and even unconscious, struggle to stay on-topic in conversation or in class. Hyperactivity may be managed by becoming the teacher's assistant -- erasing the board, passing out assignments, etc. The restless feelings that motivate this behavior are then unnoticed. Ultimately, untreated attention deficit symptoms may become an impediment in achieving the individual's full potential in adulthood.


Work and Career

The working world, with the potential impediments of subtle sexism and the glass ceiling, can be a challenging experience for women. This subtle sexism of today, with its assumptions entrenched in gender preconceptions, may materialize as a contention that the woman does not "fit in." It is thus more difficult to recognize and to process psychologically. Furthermore messages and judgments regarding motherhood and its social construct add to the complexity of being a woman in today's workforce.


Clinical Approach

Dr. Lerner utilizes a combination of cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and psychodynamic techniques in addition to medication management.


Academic Focus

Dr. Lerner is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School, where she teaches and supervises medical students and psychiatry residents.

Dr. Lerner specializes in depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, life transitions, grief, and loss.

She has expertise in management of psychiatric and emotional challenges during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.



American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology


Assistant Clinical Professor

University of California
San Francisco


Past Chair

Department of Psychiatry
Marin General Hospital