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If you're pregnant and have certain risk factors for depression, doctors should prescribe therapy. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), two types of counseling can best reduce your risk of developing perinatal depression: interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Although any new mom can develop perinatal depression, you are considered to be at increased risk if you:
- Have a personal or family history of depression
- Are going through a divorce or other stressful life event
- Are under financial strain
- Don't have much social support
- Have gestational diabetes
- Are a teen or single mom
- Didn't plan or want your pregnancy
For women with these risk factors, interpersonal or cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce the chances of developing perinatal depression by almost 40 percent, USPSTF stated in JAMA. The task force reviewed dozens of studies on different types of depression treatments, including antidepressants, exercise, education, and creative writing. Counseling proved most effective.
What is interpersonal and cognitive behavioral therapy?
Interpersonal therapy focuses on role-playing and helping you minimize stress and conflicts, especially those that can arise from having a child. For example, you might practice how to delegate childcare tasks with your partner, task force member Karina Davidson told NPR.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you understand and manage your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. With this type of therapy, you'll learn strategies for turning negative thoughts and perceptions into more positive, constructive ones.
The new recommendation is a giant step toward ensuring more women not only get screened, but receive preventative treatment for perinatal depression. Of course, that doesn't mean all providers will immediately have the tools, training, and referral options to implement this advice.
You can help advocate for yourself by learning about symptoms and risk factors for postpartum depression. Organizations such as Postpartum Support International and the blog Postpartum Progress can also provide resources and support.
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