According to the American Psychiatric Association, about one in ten mothers suffer from postpartum depression, a psychological illness that brings on feelings of exhaustion, hopelessness and confusion days or even years after delivery. Women suffering from postpartum depression have traditionally been treated with a mixture of therapy and medication, but a new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that peer counseling may be a new and powerful tool treatment option.
Designed by Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis of the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, the study followed a group of about 700 women who had all been diagnosed with postpartum depression. The control group was given standard care, while the second group received a weekly phone call from a peer counselor who had also experienced postpartum depression.
Both groups were measured according to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), with those receiving a score of 12 or higher on the scale considered depressed. After twelve weeks 25% of the control group still had an EPDS score of over 12, compared to only 14% of the women who had received peer counseling.
While experts caution that it's still too early to declare peer counseling an outright success, it certainly appears that mothers suffering from postpartum depression could greatly benefit by spending more time talking to women like them, and that's good news for moms everywhere.
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