World Mental Healthcare Association

Treating Mom’s Postpartum Depression Also Benefits Baby’s Brain, Study Reveals

Treating Moms Postpartum Depression - news
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Brain News: McMaster University researchers have found that the postpartum depression treatment of mothers helps in their babies’ brain growth.

McMaster University supported by the global Brain and Behavior Research Foundation conducted a study among 40 infants of women diagnosed with postpartum depression and 40 infants of non-depressed mothers. They compared the study results of two different slots based on the participants’ age, gender, and socio-economic status. They monitored 40 mothers who received nine weeks of group Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a treatment of their postpartum depression. The infants were assessed before the CBT treatment and nine weeks later. The researchers also organized a questionnaire on the infant behavior completed by the mother and her partner.

Results showed that cognitive-behavioral therapy not only helped the mothers to overcome postpartum depression but also caused adaptive changes in the brains and behavior of their babies. The research even found that the infants had healthy changes in their nervous and cardiovascular systems, and their parents observed them better regulate their behavior and emotions.

“In fact, we found that after their moms were treated that their infant’s brain activity normalized to the levels seen in our healthy infants,” said Ryan Van Lieshout, senior author of the study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety. He further explained that infants whose mothers received postpartum depression treatment; had healthy changes in their brains that lead to them developing emotional and behavioral problems later in life compared to other infants of non-depressed mothers.

“We believe that this is the first time that anyone has shown that treating moms’ postpartum depression can lead to healthy changes in the physiology of the brains of their infants, a finding that we think provides a lot of good news,” said Ryan.

According to the researchers, CBT is the most effective treatment for postpartum depression. It not only helps the mother to better manage their depression symptoms but also potentially reduces the risk of intergenerational transmission from mother to child.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Krzeczkowski, J. E., Schmidt, L. A., & Van Lieshout, R. J. (2021). Changes in infant emotion regulation following maternal cognitive behavioral therapy for postpartum depression. Depression and Anxiety, 38(4), 412-421. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.23130

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