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Psychosocial and psychological interventions for preventing postpartum depression

Dennis C-L, Dowswell T
Published Online: 
28 February 2013

Postpartum depression is a serious condition of significant public health importance. The purpose of this review was to examine the effect of psychosocial and psychological interventions to reduce the risk of postpartum depression compared with usual care. This review includes data from 28 randomised controlled trials involving almost 17,000 women. The preventative interventions evaluated in the included trials were diverse and the end-points differed widely but the methodological quality was good to excellent. A clear beneficial effect in the prevention of postpartum depression was found from a range of psychosocial and psychological interventions. Promising interventions included professionally-based postpartum home visits, lay- or peer-based postpartum telephone support, and interpersonal psychotherapy. Interventions provided by various health professionals and lay individuals were similarly beneficial. Interventions that were individually-based were beneficial as were those that involved multiple contacts. There is also evidence that interventions initiated postnatally assisted in preventing postpartum depression as were those specifically targeting 'at-risk' mothers. Many questions remain unanswered and additional research is needed.