Special topic

Archives of Women’s Mental Health

, Volume 6, Supplement 2, pp s57-s69

First online:

The prevention and psychotherapeutic treatment of postpartum depression

  • S. StuartAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, U.S.A.
  • , M. W. O’HaraAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, U.S.A.
  • , L. L. GormanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, U.S.A.

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¶The efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions for the acute treatment of postpartum depression is strongly supported by empirical data, which suggest that counseling is of benefit as a stand-alone treatment for postpartum depression. Given the paucity of treatment trials using medication for postpartum depression, and the fact that psychotherapeutic interventions do not confer any “exposure” risks to breastfeeding infants, the data also suggest that psychotherapy should be considered a first-line treatment, rather than as an adjunct to medication treatment. There is also some data supporting the use of psychotherapy as a means of preventing postpartum depression, though research is still needed regarding the type of interventions to be used and the types of patients towards whom the interventions should be directed.

Keywords: Postnatal depression; psychotherapy; treatment; prevention.