Post-Partum Depression Gets a Kick from Regular Therapy

A GoodTherapy.org News Summary

After the stresses of pregnancy and birth and the approaching responsibilities of motherhood, having a child can produce a fair amount of anxiety and depression, even in those new mothers who experience joy in connection with their child. In the modern climate of pharmaceutical breakthroughs, this Post-Partum Depression is often shrugged off as a pesky result of some pregnancies, and treated with a regimen of anti-depressants or other drugs. But two new studies performed by the University of Toronto in Canada and the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy can be a more effective tool in the struggle against PPD, and is significantly more successful in alleviating depressed feelings among new mothers than traditional post-natal medical care alone.

The University of Toronto study focused on new mothers with Post-Partum Depression over periods of six and twelve months. The women were given short, one-hour sessions with a cognitive behavioral therapist once a week for a period of eight weeks, while the control group was attended to by means of usual medical care, without the benefit of therapy. After a period of six months, many women who participated in therapy sessions reported a drop or cessation of symptoms, and this was significantly compounded at the one-year mark. What’s more, those women who reported feelings of depression six weeks following delivery were less than half as likely to report the same symptoms at six months as those mothers who received traditional care.

Additionally, the University of Huddersfield study selected pregnant women at a high risk of developing PPD, and supplied them with regular communication with other, experienced mothers via telephone. This tactic resulted in a halving of diagnosed cases among the study group following birth. Whether implemented during pregnancy or after the baby is brought home, one thing is made clear by these studies, both published this week: talking it out may be the best medicine.

© Copyright 2009 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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  • Faith

    Faith

    January 18th, 2009 at 9:20 AM

    i am so glad to see therapy and studies on Post Parum Depression. So many women go thru this and need help. Fortunately I was not one of them, although I did get emotional, cried and wanted everyone to go home once I arrived home.

  • Felicia

    Felicia

    January 18th, 2009 at 9:22 AM

    It would be nice if some of the doctors where I live would take this more seriously. That’s what you get when you live in a small town and doctors prescribe anti depressants and send you home. I know all doctors are not like this, but I have ran across several where I live. I applaude the University of Toronto and University of Huddersfield for their concerns.

  • Kelly

    Kelly

    January 19th, 2009 at 1:19 AM

    I think PPD is a universal phenomenon irrespective of race, region, personality or social status. A lot of irrational behaviour and extremes of emotions stems from this. Taking it out and letting it out is very important in this period as the physiological changes and stress is tremendous. Its a good thing that there is so much stress for cognitive therapy vis a vis drug therapy.

  • Catrina

    Catrina

    January 20th, 2009 at 2:57 AM

    I am glad there are doctors and therapists out there that are concerned about PPD. We need more like them. PPD is something that really needs to be taken seriously.

  • Wiley

    Wiley

    January 22nd, 2009 at 3:03 AM

    Motherhood and pregnancy should be a wonderful time in a woman’s life… It’s sad to say there are women who go thru the postpartum depression and need the help. It would be a shame to miss out on the joys of a newborn, but yet, PPD is still there for some.

  • Amy

    Amy

    January 27th, 2009 at 4:00 AM

    I wonder if there are any indicators that would help doctors to determine who will be most at risk for developing PPD after childbirth? That certainly would be helpful to know.

  • Maggie

    Maggie

    January 27th, 2009 at 3:20 PM

    there are plenty of indicators but i just think that some doctors can still tend to overlook or minimize them. those who have not experienced childbirth cannot imagine the ups and downs of motherhood and when combined with all of the internal hormonal fluctuations it is no wonder that so many women develop post partum depression. it’s time for everyone to open their eyes to this serious and risky subject and find a way to help these moms through what can be an emotionally devastating time.

  • Haley

    Haley

    January 31st, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    Maggie I agree with you 100%. Many think that motherhood is only something glorious and beautiful, and while it is those things it is also hard work. I am very fortunate to have a husband who was around to help me with everything when our daughter was born but there are those moms who do not have that kind of support system and who struggle against the weight of parenthood. It is all consuming and many just do not have a clue as to how to handle this. It can be a very stressful and isolating time for any new parents, particularly women, and I think like Maggie said we all have to do a better job at keeping in touch with what is really going in so many of these new families lives and being much more honest about the reality of PPD. It is not something that will just go away.

  • Gloria

    Gloria

    February 12th, 2009 at 3:44 AM

    Maybe all women should just plan to go ahead and see a therapist after the birth of a child just to make sure that everything is OK.

  • jessie

    jessie

    March 21st, 2009 at 9:43 AM

    My friend had PPD and I thought she was going crazy.. I didn’t realize how bad this could be until I have read up on the subject here and on the internet. There needs to be more information and help for people who go thru this.

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