One in seven women will suffer from post partum depression. And moms who are depressed are unable to look after their babies properly. But researchers at the University of Calgary have come up with a program that is curing most of these moms in a matter of weeks!
Nicole Letourneau, who holds the Norlien/Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation Research Chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health, says what they’ve found could change the way we treat women with post partum depression. The researchers enrolled women with post partum depression in a peer phone support program. So new moms would get a phone call from another mom who had PPD and recovered. These calls would happen about once a week for 12 weeks. And the results are incredible. At the end of the program, only 11 percent of moms said they were still depressed. That’s about a 90 percent cure rate. To put that number in context, medication only works in about 50 percent of cases.
And Letourneau says the program is cost effective and easy to implement. The women making the calls are volunteers. And the researchers had no trouble recruiting these women. What they found is women who had gone through PPD and recovered wanted to turn their bad experience into a positive one for another mom. The program is also very accessible. Depressed moms tend to self isolate, so they don’t want to seek help in the community. With this program, they don’t have to. The help comes to them. The program is also non-stigmatizing. It helps these new moms understand they’re not failing as a mother, they’re dealing with an illness. And the phone calls provide them with hope. These depressed moms are talking to another mom who can say, “I’ve been through this and recovered. It does get better.”
And the critical piece here is the phone program reduces the amount of time mom is depressed which in turn has a huge impact on the baby. Research clearly shows a child with a mother with post partum depression, who is incapable of responding to their needs consistently and appropriately, will have their brain architecture affected for life. That means a child will grow up to have problems in school, behaviour and attention issues and their own struggles with anxiety and depression.
So we need to support news moms so that their babies can grow up to be healthy, functioning members of our communities.
And all it may take is a simple phone call.
For more information on this study and Nicole Letourneau’s research visit this website.