January 29, 2009

Publication: Northside People East

Date: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Page: 30

Headline: Health Update – irishhealth.com

Health visitors can be trained to identify and effectively treat women suffering with postnatal depression, while telephone support from other mothers may halve the risk of developing the condition in the first place, new research has shown. More than one in 10 women experience postnatal depression in the year following the birth of their child. However, the condition can often go undetected and untreated because of poor recognition of symptoms, unawareness of treatment options or the fear of stigma.

 UK researchers analysed whether psychological interventions were effective in treating the symptoms of postnatal depression. More than 4,000 women took part. They were assigned either a specially trained health visitor or the usual level of health visitor care. In Ireland, postnatal care by health visitors is usually provided by public health nurses. During the study, specially trained health visitors were trained to identify depressive symptoms and deliver cognitive behavioural or person-centred sessions for one hour per week for up to eight weeks. The mothers were assessed for depression during this time. They were followed up for a total of 18 months. At both six months and 12 months postnatally, the mothers who received care from the specially trained health visitors showed significantly greater reductions in depressive symptoms than those who received just the usual care from health visitors. Furthermore, mothers in this group who had displayed depressive symptoms at sis weeks were 40% less likely to have depressive symptoms at six months than those receiving standard health visitor care.

Meanwhile in a second Canadian study, scientists examined the effectiveness of telephone-based peer support to prevent postnatal depression in high-risk women. More than 700 women were identified as being high-risk. They received either standard postnatal care or the support of a peer volunteer who had experienced postnatal depression themselves. Mothers who received peer support had half the risk of developing postnatal depression after 12 weeks compared to those in the control group. The mothers in the study said they liked the peer support and more than three-quarters said they would recommend the support to a friend.

For more, visit Mum.ie.