CBT May Benefit Low-Income Pregnant Mothers

Depression can be a major health issue for pregnant women, especially if the depression continues post-partum. “The negative effects of maternal depression on child development are extensively documented,” said researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University. “Many of these effects stem from systematic disruptions in parenting behavior—most commonly, mothers are withdrawn or emotionally unavailable to their children, or they are intrusive and harsh, particularly in how they use discipline.” Statistics show that low-income women are at increased risk for this form of depression. Realizing the far-reaching implications of this problem, the researchers wanted to determine if integrating the Mothers and Babies Course (MB), a cognitive based therapy that is structured around pleasant activities and socialization, into already utilized home visitation services, could lower the rates of perinatal depression.

“Home visitation is a promising context for identifying and addressing perinatal depression. Home visiting programs typically enroll women prenatally with services continuing until a child reaches 2–5 years of age,” said the team. “As such, home visiting programs can provide continuity of care across the perinatal period for women and their infants.” Sixty-one women, either pregnant or with infants, were enrolled in the study. The MB consisted of six 2 hour long interventions over a six week period.

The results revealed that 84% of the women who received the MB showed significant improvement in depressive symptoms three months after treatment, compared with only 41% of the women who received home visitation alone. Additionally, 89% of women in the MB group saw their symptoms decrease from severe to moderate. The researchers said, “This study also supports recent findings that highlight the relevance of home visitation programs as a context for targeting depression and the feasibility of embedding mental health services within such programs.” They added, “By preventing the onset and worsening of depressive symptoms, women may be more likely to fully engage with home visitation services, thus realizing the potential benefits of those services for themselves and their children.”

Reference:
Tandon, S. D., Perry, D. F., Mendelson, T., Kemp, K., & Leis, J. A. (2011, August 1). Preventing Perinatal Depression in Low-Income Home Visiting Clients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. Advance online publication. doi:  10.1037/a0024895

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Beth Howatd

    Beth Howatd

    August 26th, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    I sure do hate to be the one to point this out but sometimes with low income pregnant women and new moms, it is hard enough to get them to keep a gyn appt, much less to pursue one for therapy. And another thing- how are they ever going to be able to afford this kind of treatment? I am sure it is a real benefit but let’s all of us get real. The chances that the Medicaid plan that they are more than likely on covering this kind of treatment is very unrealistic and improbable, and you know that that is the truth. So again- how are you going to make this fantasy into something attainable? In today’s economy and with everyone wanting to cut social services, it just does not seem like a viable option.

  • BEN

    BEN

    August 26th, 2011 at 7:18 PM

    I think helping the section that would not be able to afford regular treatment and especially in their home setting is a great program.needs mre enthusiasm from the authorities and hope it is not scrapped due to ‘budgetary constraints’!

  • Nan

    Nan

    August 27th, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    Home visits with a trained social worker could be so beneficial for these women who find themselves in these situations. But who is going to say who qualifies for this and who is left to fight it on their own?

  • A.Irvine

    A.Irvine

    August 28th, 2011 at 3:36 AM

    Low-income folk usually have minimal access to healthcare and are at crossroads when it comes to insurance because they cannot affords it.A program like this is bound to help many needy people.

  • Jessie Wilds

    Jessie Wilds

    September 18th, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    CB sounds like a wonderful way to help low income single pregnant mothers. The premise of the course is fascinating, I would love to see how they incorporate both socialization and pleasant activities.

    A 84% improvement rate speaks for itself, this course works! I’m excited about where this therapy can lead. Imagine what the world would be like of all mothers in this demographic took this class? Less depression, less abortions even less suicide. The results will be amazing. I’ll be following the progression of CB and rooting for all along the way. This new kind of therapy has a lot of potential.

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