Therapy improves recovery for depressed mothers

November 11th, 2008 - 4:32 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 11 (IANS) A therapy developed by Liverpool University and Pakistani scientists will be a boon to millions of depressed women in developing countries. The impact of depression - a major health problem world-wide - is the greatest in developing countries where 80 percent of the population live, according to experts.

Atif Rahman of School of Population, Community and Behavioural Sciences, helped develop the programme while working as a Wellcome Trust Career Fellow in Tropical Medicine in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

“Depression is one of the leading causes of mental illness in the world and when the condition affects mothers with newborn babies, it can lead to serious consequences” he said.

“The impacts include low birth-weight, poor growth, frequent diarrhoea and the mother failing to ensure the child is properly immunised. These conditions tend to remain untreated in countries like Pakistan where only a fraction of the government’s budget is spent on health.

The programme, which is designed to be integrated into the routine work of ordinary village-based health workers, has been tested in Rawalpindi.

Patients attend sessions every week in the last month of pregnancy, followed by three sessions in the first post-natal month, and nine monthly sessions thereafter, according to a Liverpool University release.

The largest trial of the treatment of depression using community health workers from any country in the developing world involved 903 mothers - 463 of whom were in the therapy group.

The mothers from this control group were twice as likely to be depressed as those given the therapy after six and 12 months.

The research was published in the Lancet.

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