Postpartum depression (PPD) is not uncommon. In fact, it is
one of the most common and devastating results of childbirth, affecting 1 in 8
women who have given birth.
“Symptoms can be sadness, low mood, lack of enjoyment of things
that you used to enjoy,” Dr.
Samantha Meltzer-Brody, Director
of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at University of North Carolina (UNC)
Center for Women’s Mood Disorders told Mom.me. “It interferes with functioning
and unfortunately, in its most severe form, women can have thoughts of ending
Last year, as part of a team that includes the National
Institute of Mental Health, UNC Chapel Hill and Apple, Dr. Meltzer-Brody helped
create the PPD ACT iOS app in an effort to better understand who is at risk for
PPD and to track genetic clues.
The app lets any woman who has given birth take a short, clinically screened survey, get feedback on whether they have or had PPD and it provides information on mental health
resources for women who are currently experiencing PPD. It also invites qualifying participants to be part of a study using a spit kit to provide DNA samples
to help researchers study the genes of those who have experienced postpartum depression.
To date, the app has been downloaded by 14,000 women and 5,000
spit kits have been sent out.
Oh, and the reach of this study is about to blow up because the PPD ACT app was recently released for Android users as well. This
is a big deal considering that there are a lot of mamas and mamas-to-be out there
with Android devices. Now pretty much any
woman who has given birth and owns a smartphone can be a potential participant.
The benefits of the app for women who are currently
experiencing postpartum depression are obvious, but don’t discount yourself from participating even
if it’s been years since you gave birth. Your DNA is your DNA for life, and if
you suffered from (or suspect you suffered from) postpartum depression, the app can assess the
severity and also give you the opportunity to participate in the large-scale
The goal is to help future mamas, while at the same time
giving some moms a chance to share their experiences for the first time.
If you're worried about the time commitment it takes to
complete the screening, don’t be. Dr. Meltzer-Brody says, “We really
wanted to design an app that could be used by a busy mom who was feeding the
baby in one hand and trying to do this in 10 minutes or less in the other.”
can spare 10 minutes to help yourself or someone else, can’t you?
The PPD ACT app is
free and available at both the Apple store and Google Play. Any mom who suspects she has experienced symptoms
of PPD is encouraged to download the app and join the study.