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Motherhood with Depression

Research on post-partum depression suggests traditional medical treatment alone may be inadequate to improve a mother’s relationship with her baby.

The other essential factor is giving struggling new mothers basic tools to read behavioral cues from their babies and effectively respond to their needs, said Dr. Robert Short, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

The pilot study of 11 mild to moderately depressed mothers and their babies showed that when the women were taught how to react to their babies’ emotional cues, the infants responded with heightened levels of interest and joy, even though their mothers’ depression levels did not change.

“They were able to be positive for their babies despite their own struggles,” Short said.

The study, which also included research from the University of New Brunswick, appears in this month’s issue of Journal of Affective Disorders.

The study used an intervention program called the Keys to Caregiving (KTC) that helps parents understand and respond to infant behaviors, with the goal of increasing positive expressions in the babies. Over five weekly group sessions, the moms and babies were videotaped before and after KTC intervention.

The tapes were then scored for the facial emotion expressions of the infants. In one experiment, prior to intervention, 39 per cent of infants displayed interest in their mothers’ expressions; afterwards, it rose to 67 per cent. The babies’ expressions of joy rose from 2.8 per cent to 13 per cent.

The interventions consisted of educating the mothers about different infant states (levels of sleeping and waking), behaviours (unique personalities), cues (non-verbal language) and interaction during feedings. The mothers then practiced these new skills during training sessions and at home.

“This gives depressed mothers some sort of structure in terms of what the baby is doing. It doesn’t focus on her condition, but on what she can do and how she can better interpret her baby.”

Three to 30 per cent of new mothers suffer post-partum depression, which can result in serious growth and developmental problems for infants, Short noted.

“What this study shows is that if you focus medically just on the mother’s condition, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will improve the type of interactions that are essential for normal healthy child development.”

Programs like KTC should apply to all new mothers, he added.

“We assume that mothers have this automatic ability to interact with their babies, and not all of them do,” Short noted.

Source: University of Alberta

Motherhood with Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Motherhood with Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 16, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/03/13/motherhood-with-depression/684.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.