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Two separate research studies, one in England and the other in Canada have found that, in spite of the real damage to mothers, their partners, their new babies and the wellness of any siblings, depression after childbirth is still massively undetected.

13% of women suffer postnatal depression

However, with psychological support by health visitors properly trained to spot early signs, mothers were half as likely to develop postnatal depression as those who had not been given counselling help.

The Canadian study also found that by assigning each mother to a volunteer who had herself experienced postnatal depression, similar success rates were seen. These volunteers received four hours training and delivered their peer support in the form of regular telephone conversations. Both studies concluded that this kind of personal service was far more effective than the traditional GP referral, being drug free and more likely to prevent postnatal depression by instilling awareness early, before problems had chance to arise.

Psychological support from health visitors helps prevent the damaging effects of baby blues

The British Medical Journal published both studies – the first led by Dr. C Jane Morrell from Sheffield University and the second by Professor Cindy-Lee Dennis from the University of Toronto.

Useful links: then search BMJ.2009;338:a2975