Calling Off Postpartum Depression?

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By Anisa Arsenault, Associate Editor
Updated January 30, 2017
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Wondering what you can do you lessen postpartum depression? You can start by making a phone call.

A new Canadian study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing found that support from peers might be able to reduce postpartum depression (PPD) up to two years after delivery. But just talking to friends and family isn’t necessarily enough — in the case of this study, “peers” refers to a group of trained volunteers who had recovered from PPD.

To conduct the study, researchers recruited 64 New Brunswick women who reported moderate depression up to two years after having a baby. At the study’s midpoint — or after approximately seven weeks of peer counseling on the phone — the depression rate dropped to 8.1 percent.

“Our findings highlight the importance of nurses assessing depression in new mothers and demonstrate the potential of telephone-based peer support to reduce maternal depression,” says study author Loretta Secco, MN, PhD, RN. “This non-judgmental support from peers seems to help overcome the stigma often associated with mental illness.”

By the study’s end, depression rates increased slightly to 11.8 percent, which researchers say suggests some relapse. But this peer-to-peer treatment plan is a step in the right direction. Managing and treating PPD is not only important for maternal heath, but the relationship between mother and child as well.

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