Some women are reluctant to go on medication, however, especially if they're breast-feeding. But medication might not be the only remedy. A study published online recently in BMJ (British Medical Journal) found that peer counseling sessions might help mothers combat anxiety.
A number of methods were used to assess women's levels of depression, anxiety and other emotional states, including the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (probable postnatal depression was defined as a score of more than 12 on the scale, a commonly used evaluation of postpartum depression). Nurses followed up with all study participants at 12 and 24 weeks, but they did not know to which group the women belonged.
At the beginning of the study, led by Cindy-Lee Dennis, a nursing professor at the Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto, the groups had similar scores on the Edinburgh scale: 12.5 for the counseling group and 12.62 for the control. At 12 weeks, however, the counseling group showed an improvement: 14 percent had a score of more than 12, while in the control group 25 percent had a score of more than 12. No significant differences were found at 24 weeks, but since this was a prevention trial, those who had severe depression at 12 weeks were referred to a local health department for treatment.
Women in the counseling group were also asked to evaluate their experience; out of 221 who did, more than 80 percent said they would recommend it to a friend.