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Moms, No More Excuses For Not Getting Treatment for Depression

Photograph by Twenty20

Over the last five years and three pregnancies, I've experienced my fair share of postpartum and pregnancy-related mental health struggles. I’ve had postpartum depression, pretty intense postpartum anxiety and was even diagnosed with prenatal depression during my last pregnancy..

And I always had an excuse to put off getting the help I needed.

It wasn’t until this pregnancy, when I wasn’t managing OK anymore, that I finally spoke up and saw doctor about getting support until I started feeling like myself again.

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I'm sure you can understand. If anyone has a few good excuses to put off a doctor’s appointment or avoid seeing a therapist, it’s new moms. For working moms, spending one more hour away from kids each week feels like too much to ask. And for stay-at-home moms, finding the consistent childcare needed to participate in therapy is way harder than you might think.

Now there's even more reason more moms to speak up if they're experiencing depression. According to new study by the journal of Development and Psychopathology, children of depressed mothers benefit greatly when their mother seeks treatment.

That's right: When you help yourself, you are also helping your kids.

This study took a close look at 125 pairs of mothers and toddlers, specifically looking at the effects of interpersonal psychotherapy on moms with depression. Interpersonal psychotherapy, or IPT, is a specialized type of therapy that aims to improve depressive symptoms by improving how the depressed person thinks about their relationships and interactions with the people in their lives. Typically, this type of therapy is short-term, taking 12 to 16 weeks to complete.

Basically, when moms with depression get treatment, everyone wins.

After the mothers in the study finished their treatment, they reported decreased depression symptoms, which in itself is awesome, but they weren’t the only ones who benefited. The researchers also found that these moms had learned to better understand their children and read their emotional cues, improving their overall effectiveness as parents.

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This is important research since past studies have found that potential risks for children of depressed moms include everything from substance abuse, to developing ADHD and poor performance in school. Now, moms know that the choices they make—specifically, seeking treatment for their depression—can improve their relationship with their children and hopefully decrease many of these risk factors.

Basically, when moms with depression get treatment, everyone wins.

If you are experiencing depression, make an appointment with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN or visit this resource to learn more about the maternal health programs available in your area.

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