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A recent recommendation by a panel of medical and health experts says that counseling can prevent perinatal /ˌperəˈneɪtəl/ depression (PND) in new mothers.
PND is a type of depression that may occur either before or after childbirth. This condition, which affects nearly 15% of new mothers, is characterized by sudden extreme emotions like anger or sadness. PND may increase the risk of premature birth and can impede the mental and emotional development of one’s child.
Because of these negative effects, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decided to look for ways to prevent this condition.
After an extensive review of relevant studies about PND, the USPSTF found two effective forms of counseling: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy. CBT centers on changing a person’s negative thoughts and behavior. Common CBT exercises include goal-setting, problem-solving, and meditation.
On the other hand, interpersonal therapy focuses on building and managing relationships with other people, such as family and friends, to treat depression. Some interpersonal therapy exercises are role-playing and decision analysis.
The USPSTF recommends these methods to at-risk mothers who are showing depressive symptoms. Single mothers and those who are having or have had unplanned pregnancies are also at risk of having PND.
With the USPSTF’s recommendation, mothers’ access to mental health care can be improved. This is because the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover preventive care prescribed by groups like the USPSTF.
A psychologist not involved in the study hopes that, aside from insurance-covered mental health care, the recommendation can push hospitals to put mental health at the forefront of medical care.