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Postnatal Depression Internet Therapy Is Effective

Update Date: Oct 23, 2013 03:27 PM EDT
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Internet therapy has been proven to provide effective treatment for postnatal depression according to a new pilot study.

"The high number of cases of PND, and the comparatively poor take up of help from those affected by it, are worrying," Dr. Heather O'Mahen from the University of Exeter who led the study, said in a news release.

According to the University of Exeter, "Rates of postnatal depression (PND) are high-between 10 to 30 percent of mums are affected-but many cases go unreported and few women seek help."
In an attempt to investigate other methods of treatment for PND, researchers underwent their first ever online treatment based study.

For the study, a team of researchers created and evaluated an internet Behavioral Action (BA) treatment for 83 mothers who had 'major depressive disorder'. The treatment involved mental health workers who were available for telephone calls for each 12 online sessions.

Of the 83 mothers, one group received basic treatment while the other group obtained internet based treatment.

"Women in the treatment group could sign onto the online program and chose modules relevant to their needs," reported Exeter. "For example, there were modules on 'being a good enough mum', 'changing roles and relationships', 'sleep' and 'communication'." 

The participants were supported by mental health workers through weekly telephone sessions.

Researchers found that the mothers who received the online treatment expressed better results for depression, work and social impairment and anxiety.  In addition, they reported better results for depression six months after treatment.

"Mothers report favouring therapy over drug-based solutions, especially if they are breastfeeding, but for many new mums accessing traditional clinic-based therapy is difficult: transportation, childcare, variable feeding and nap times, all conspire to make it hard to keep appointments," reported Exeter.

Researchers expressed how important it is to provide new mothers with effective treatments for those who suffer from PND and are not given the proper attention and care.

"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; and a reduction in the demands such cases can bring to stretched health services around the world," said O'Mahen. "This treatment is an accessible and potentially cost-effective option, and one that could easily be incorporated into mental healthcare provision."

The findings are published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

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