Latest Study on Pregnancy and Depression

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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New study on pregnancy and depression may be impact long-term depression in mothers. Here’s what the experts are saying.

According to the first study of this type, cognitive behavioral therapy, more commonly called CBT has remarkable favorable outcomes on a mother’s mental health, income, employment, and parenting skills even after seven years since she has given birth.

The study was led by Sonia Bhalotra from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex. It is an international research project that focused on the impact of depression on women during pregnancy and their babies.

Related: Coping with Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy

400 Million People Suffer from Depression Globally

Over 400 million people all over the world have reported episodes of depression. Women in their pregnancy become more susceptible to mental health problems.

From the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, between 12% and 20% of women suffer from perinatal depression. In much poorer countries, 20-35% of women suffer from perinatal depression. Obviously, pregnancy affects not just the physical but the mental aspect as well.

CBT is a talking therapy that can help a person handle problems by changing how they think and behave. According to the NHS website, it is based on the idea of your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interlinked, and that your antagonistic thoughts and feelings can trap you in a dreadful cycle.

CBT persuades people to see their troubles in a more favourable way by dividing them into smaller parts.

Most studies have emphasized the short-term benefits of CBT and questions were raised whether it could have long-term effects.


Depression and Pregnancy Study the Largest Control Trials

Having one of the largest randomized control trials to be held in the modern era, the study followed women who were diagnosed with depression in the middle of pregnancy in 40 communities in rural Pakistan.

Within one year, 58% of the women in the control group still have depression. On the other hand, only a quarter of the mothers who had been treated with CBT have been reported of still having depression.

After seven years, the researchers returned to the women and their children and found that the treated mothers were still notably less likely to succumb into depression than the control group.

The first group were also more likely to maintain jobs and have control over their household spending. Big improvements can also be seen in their parenting styles. Almost everything has changed for those women in pregnancy who suffered from depression. They became more adjusted and well-rounded individuals.

Related: Coping with Depression for Women: 5 Common Myths

Pregnant Women Living with Mother at Higher Risk?

The study has also found that women who didn’t have as much social support like those who are not living with or near their mother or mother-in-law, were the ones who benefited most from the CBT intervention in both the short and long term. Independence certainly became a favorable outcome for the women in pregnancy who received the therapy intervention.

According to Bhalotra, the findings on the long-term benefits at seven years post-treatment are very exciting because aside from the main focus on the impact on mothers with depression, there are also global implications for the treatment of every human being suffering from depression.

It has clearly been exhibited that CBT has changed how the treated women live their lives presently. Their mental health is not the only thing that improved, but their financial situation and their empowerment over their lives as well, and most especially, the way they interact with their children.

Receiving treatment for the suffering that those women in pregnancy have undergone surely has a wonderful result in the present time.

Clearly, women in their pregnancy who are suffering from depression should talk to their doctors regarding CBT as it obviously has long-term and multiple benefits. International organizations such as the UN should take notice and action on helping women in pregnancy who are suffering from depression, especially those who live in remote and underprivileged areas in different countries.

They will not only help women in pregnancy get better mental health, but also help the entire family and the community develop more adjusted lives.

dr-richard-honakerRichard A. Honaker, M.D. — Chief Medical Advisor at YourDoctors.Online

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Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker:

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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