What to Know About Treating Depression During Pregnancy

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To determine which treatment options worked best, the task force reviewed 50 studies that previously examined the effectiveness of various treatments for perinatal depression — such as physical activity, education, diet, medication, and counseling.

The team found that cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy were most effective in preventing perinatal depression. In fact, both types of counseling reduced the risk of getting the mood disorder by about 39 percent.

Interpersonal therapy is performed during the pregnancy and is designed to help identify the social, psychological, and biological factors that may be influencing the woman’s mood. The counselor works with the patient to boost maternal confidence, smooth the transition into parenthood, and alleviate any interpersonal stress.

“Together they develop a plan on how to deal with potential conflict regarding workloads at home and work, sleep patterns, who does what when the baby is born, and postpartum issues such as breastfeeding,” said Dr. Samuel Malloy, a general practitioner and currently the medical director with telemedicine website Dr. Felix.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), on the other hand, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing individual thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. A CBT therapist typically helps the mother first identify any harmful thought patterns or underlying beliefs and then develop coping strategies to combat anxiety and depressive symptoms, according to Malloy.