Researchers at the University of Exeter, England have shown that postpartum depression (called postnatal depression in the UK) can be treated effectively using online therapy.
Rates of postpartum depression are high — between 10 to 30 percent of mothers are affected — but many women don’t seek help partly due to practical reasons. The study found that the women who received the internet based treatment reported better results for depression, work and social impairment, and anxiety scores immediately after they had received the treatment. They also reported better results for depression six months after treatment.
The study lead researcher, Dr. Heather O’Mahen, said that the results, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, “indicate that such an internet-based facility for treatment could have a positive effect on postnatal depression as a whole, providing new mums with support at times which are convenient to them and allowing them to complete a course of therapy”.
She added: “Our hope is that this will allow more women to access and benefit from support, with all the knock-on positives that come from that: happier families, improved quality of life for mums”.
Many new mothers prefer therapy over drug-based solutions, especially if they are breastfeeding, but many women find it hard to access traditional clinic or office-based therapy due to issues such as transportation, childcare, variable feeding and nap times, which all conspire to make it hard to keep appointments. It is critical to provide new mothers with treatments that work for them.
Dr. Allen offers online or telephone sessions to make it more convenient for pregnant and new moms to get specialist help.