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Tuesday 16th July 2019

Postnatal depression stopped by health visitors

18th August 2010

A study of 2,000 women in the UK has found that women who are supported by trained health visitors following the birth of their children have less likelihood of becoming depressed.


The research, carried out by teams from the universities of Sheffield, Leicester and Nottingham, looked at the results of two groups of women for 18 months.

The first group of almost 1,500 women were supported by health visitors who had been given special training in the assessment of mental health issues.

The second group of 767 women were given standard care by a health visitor.

At the beginning of the research none of the women exhibited signs of depression (six weeks after the birth of their babies).

The researchers found that women who were supported by visitors with special training  had 30% less likelihood of developing depression six months after their babies were born, in comparison to women who were given the usual care.

Lead author Professor Terry Brugha, of the University of Leicester Clinical Division of Psychiatry, said: "Up until now, it was thought that depression could only be treated when it is picked up by a GP or health visitor."

"But this study shows that women are less likely to become depressed in the year after childbirth if they are attended by an NHS health visitor who has undergone additional training in specific mental health assessment and in psychological approaches based on either cognitive behavioural or listening techniques."


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