Study upon study demonstrates that the most severe risk factor for postpartum depression is the mother who does not feel supported, Meyer said. "Is it any wonder then that providing support from mothers, even fairly minimal support, even by modestly trained lay people, would not mitigate the incidence and severity of depression in the postpartum period?" he asked.
But Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine and an expert in treating postpartum depression, said that for many women with severe depression, these treatments aren't enough.
"Modest forms of psychotherapy are helpful for mild to modest forms of depression," Yonkers said. "These therapies can be administered by trained paraprofessionals or lay personnel. These interventions decrease the burden of depressive symptoms in postpartum women."
"But there are still substantial numbers of women who seem to require stepped-up treatment," she said.
For more on postpartum depression, visit the National Women's Health Information Center.
SOURCES: Jane Morrell, Ph.D., research leader, University of Huddersfield, U.K.; Cindy-Lee Dennis, Ph.D., associate professor, nursing and psychiatry, University of Toronto; William S. Meyer, M.S.W., associate clinical professor, departments of psychiatry and obstetrics/gynecology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Kimberly Yonkers, M.D., associate professor, psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; Jan. 16, 2009, BMJ, online
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