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Weekly telephone-based peer support linked to reduced depression in mothers

Telephone-based peer support may be an effective intervention for postnatal depression and maternal depression, suggests a study in Canada.

A total of 64 mothers in New Brunswick, Canada, who were assessed as having symptoms of depression up to 24 months after delivery were recruited to the study between May 2011 and October 2013. Of these, 16 women had been taking medication for depression since the birth of their child.

The intervention comprised weekly phone calls from mothers who had recovered from depression and received training in peer support. Participants in the study received an average of 8.84 supportive calls that lasted on average 38.1 minutes. Depression and social support outcomes were assessed at mid-point in the intervention and at the end.

Mean depression significantly declined from baseline to the end of the study. At mid-point 8.1% of mothers were depressed; this increased to 11.8% at endpoint, suggesting some relapse. Perceptions of social support significantly improved and higher support was significantly related to lower depression symptoms.

The findings offer promise that telephone-based peer support is effective for early postpartum depression and maternal depression up to two years after delivery.

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