Study reveals therapy has long-term benefits for mothers with depression

A new study by the University of Essex shows that CBT has significant positive effects on mothers with depression.

Pregnancy news, 02/05/17

Researchers at the University of Essex have found that women who have been diagnosed with depression during pregnancy experience significant and long-term benefits from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

The study shows that CBT has a positive effect not only on a mother’s mental health, but also on her income, employment and parenting skills. The benefits of CBT can be felt even seven years after childbirth.

The study followed two groups of women in Pakistan who had been diagnosed with depression during pregnancy. One group of women were treated with CBT and the other group were not.

Researchers found that CBT was ‘highly successful’ in reducing postnatal depression. Within a year, 58% of the untreated group were still depressed, whereas only a quarter of those treated with CBT reported depression. After seven years, researchers found that the CBT-treated mothers were still significantly less likely to be depressed than the untreated group.

The study also found that the women who had the most support and were living near their mother or mother-in-law, benefitted most from the therapy.

Cognitive behaviour therapy is defined by the NHS as ‘a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.’

‘It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health problems. It aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts.’

We think the findings of this study are very encouraging for women who are struggling during or after pregnancy. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women to suffer from anxiety or depression. Although it’s normal to have periods of worry and stress, some women have feelings that don’t go away and this can be a sign of something more serious.

It’s important to speak to your GP or midwife if things don’t feel right for you. Talking to someone is often the first step towards recovery.

You can find all our information about mental wellbeing here.

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