, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 259-268
Date: 19 May 2012

Effects of a brief psychoanalytic intervention for perinatal depression

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Abstract

This pilot study explores the effects of a brief individual psychoanalytic therapy on perinatal depressive symptoms. This intervention is based on the Geneva’s mother–infant intervention model. A sample of 129 pregnant women was recruited in Geneva (Switzerland) and screened for depressive symptoms with two instruments: the ‘Edinburgh postnatal depression scale’ (EPDS) and the ‘Dépistage anténatal de la dépression postnatale’. A group of 40 women presenting depressive symptoms (treatment group) participated in a four-session intervention called ‘Psychotherapy centred on parenthood (PCP)’. It consists in two antenatal and two postnatal sessions and is focussed on changing problematic representations of parenthood. This treatment group was compared to a control group of 88 women without depressive symptoms and following the usual obstetrical care. The main outcome measure was EPDS at 3 and 6 months after delivery. The ‘Global assessment functioning scale’ was administered at the end of each therapeutic session. The ‘Parent–infant relationship global assessment scale’ was administered at the two postnatal sessions in order to explore if PCP was also effective in preventing the potential negative effects of depression on mother–infant relationship. Results show that in the treatment group (N = 31), EPDS scores dropped from 12.8 to 4.8; none of these women met the EPDS cut-off score of 12 at 3 and 6 months postpartum. Mother–infant relationship was well adapted for all 31 dyads at the end of the intervention. These results suggest that PCP is a promising intervention for treating perinatal depression and helping mothers engaging in parenting.