Moms Help Moms Duck Postpartum Depression
Peer Phone Calls Prevent Postpartum Depression in at-Risk Mothers
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Postpartum Depression: More Than Baby Blues
It's very common for women to have the baby blues in the first days after giving birth, says Diane Wulfsohn, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Atlanta's Northside Hospital. But those with significant depressive symptoms two weeks after delivery are at risk of postpartum depression.
"Depression in the past, prior postpartum depression, complicated pregnancy, and life difficulties or stress are red flags for postpartum depression," Wulfsohn says. "And postpartum depression is an umbrella term. It describes several mood reactions women can experience at this critical time of huge hormonal shifts."
Wulfsohn agrees with Dennis that in the U.S., there's no formal outreach system for identifying women who suffer postpartum depression. The stress is on making families aware of the symptoms and of making sure they know whom to call for help.
"There is no formal outreach, but in childbirth classes parents-to-be are told about these kinds of reactions," Wulfsohn says. "A lot of times a woman experiencing postpartum depression doesn't know what is going on, but the partner says, 'Oh, this is what they were talking about,' and calls me."
Dennis notes that many mothers are afraid to talk about their depression. They fear their children will be taken way and that they will be stigmatized as mentally ill. And even if they do want help, they may not have the time or resources to seek out professional care on their own.
That's where prenatal care plays a role, Wulfsohn says.
"One of the key things is awareness and education, and helping people feel postpartum depression is not a sign of weakness, and they are not the only ones who suffer it," she says. "That is probably the value of the Dennis program: women helping other women."
In-Home Therapy From Nurses Helps Postpartum Depression
Home care from nurses given brief psychotherapy training helps women overcome postpartum depression, a British study shows.
In the U.K., nurses called "health visitors" make regular calls on families before and long after a child is born. Even so, many women still suffer postpartum depression.
Training health visitors in "psychologically informed approaches for depression" helps these women overcome depression, find C. Jane Morrell, PhD, of the University of Huddersfield, England, and colleagues.