Women Benefit from Online Care for Post-Partum Depression  New research discovers that many women suffering from post-partum depression do not seek care because of time constrains and the stigma attached to depression.

Information garnered from a Case Western Reserve University survey suggest these women would utilize online interventions if the sessions were available anonymously and from professional healthcare providers.

Postpartum depression is a moderate to severe type of depression that can occur after a woman has given birth. The disorders effects can be felt soon after delivery to as long as a year later.

Experts estimate the disorder affects about 7 to 15 percent of new mothers.

Researchers recruited survey participants from four popular information sites for new mothers and discovered that many women don’t seek counseling because of the time constraints of caring for a new-born and the stigma attached to depression.

“Mothers cannot always find a sitter and then spend time driving to and from counseling,” said Judith Maloni, PhD, RN, FAAN, the lead investigator and professor of nursing.

“An online intervention is available when the moms have time.”

Co-investigator Amy Przeworski, PhD, reported that the respondents would welcome a resource that was anonymous and offered professional advice that didn’t require medications.

In the study, researchers from nursing and psychology focused on 53 mothers who fit the study’s criteria: They were hospitalized for complications from their pregnancies and felt depressed the week before the study. Participants represented all geographic regions of the U.S. and were ethically diverse. Their average age was 32, and most where college-educated.

The study, which appears in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, was the first online effort to seek information from new moms, many who suffered silently with postpartum depression but sought help from online sources, said Maloni.

Respondents said they would welcome a professional resource they could access at any time. They also preferred learning strategies to cope, information about depression and chat rooms or blogging with a health professional.

Although the exact causes of postpartum depression remain unknown, Maloni has studied the impact of bed rest on pregnant women and found that those with complications before and during the birth of their babies are at greater risk of slipping into depression after delivery.

Maloni and her team of researchers are currently designing a Web site and online interventions to address this need.

Source: Case Western University

Depressed mother with her infant photo by shutterstock.