Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 491–503 | Cite as

Effectiveness of self-help psychological interventions for treating and preventing postpartum depression: a meta-analysis

  • Ping-Zhen Lin
  • Jiao-Mei Xue
  • Bei Yang
  • Meng Li
  • Feng-Lin Cao
Review Article


Previous studies have reported different effect sizes for self-help interventions designed to reduce postpartum depression symptoms; therefore, a comprehensive quantitative review of the research was required. A meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effectiveness of self-help interventions designed to treat and prevent postpartum depression, and identified nine relevant randomized controlled trials. Differences in depressive symptoms between self-help interventions and control conditions, changes in depressive symptoms following self-help interventions, and differences in postintervention recovery and improvement rates between self-help interventions and control conditions were assessed in separate analyses. In treatment trials, depression scores continued to decrease from baseline to posttreatment and follow-up assessment in treatment subgroups. Changes in treatment subgroups’ depression scores from baseline to postintervention assessment were greater relative to those observed in prevention subgroups. Self-help interventions produced larger overall effects on postpartum depression, relative to those observed in control conditions, in posttreatment (Hedges’ g = 0.51) and follow-up (Hedges’ g = 0.32) assessments; and self-help interventions were significantly more effective, relative to control conditions, in promoting recovery from postpartum depression. Effectiveness in preventing depression did not differ significantly between self-help interventions and control conditions.The findings suggested that self-help interventions designed to treat postpartum depression reduced levels of depressive symptoms effectively and decreased the risk of postpartum depression.


Self-help Depression Postpartum Meta-analysis Randomized controlled trial 


Funding information

This work was financially supported by grants from the Science and Technology Major Project of Shandong Province (grant number: 2015ZDXX0801A01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ping-Zhen Lin
    • 1
  • Jiao-Mei Xue
    • 2
  • Bei Yang
    • 1
  • Meng Li
    • 1
  • Feng-Lin Cao
    • 1
  1. 1.School of NursingShandong UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Society and Law SchoolShandong Women’s UniversityJinanPeople’s Republic of China

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