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Moms Help Moms Duck Postpartum Depression

Peer Phone Calls Prevent Postpartum Depression in at-Risk Mothers

Postpartum Depression: More Than Baby Blues continued...

"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.

"The health visitors in our study were trained in psychotherapy techniques," Morrell tells WebMD. "Women cared for by the health visitors who received the training had fewer symptoms of depression when their babies were 6 months of age. That persisted to age 12 months."

The nurses were trained either in cognitive-behavioral or person-centered psychotherapy techniques. Each approach was equally helpful.

Dennis says the Morrell study shows how important it is to identify women who suffer postpartum depression.

"A lot of this depression still goes unrecognized and untreated. Why is that?" she asks.

The Dennis and Morrell studies appear in the Jan. 16 online first edition of the journal BMJ.

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