Identifying New Moms With PPD Is Only The First Step To Getting Them Help

A new report recently submitted at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science claimed that the social media site, Facebook, might be able to identify mothers suffering from postpartum depression.

Munmun De Choudhury of Georgia Tech and her colleagues at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington analyzed the Facebook activity of 165 different mothers before and after the birth of their children. The researchers also interviewed the women and provided them with a depression-screening questionnaire.

The investigators learned that the mothers suffering from postpartum depression were not only less active, but also refrained from revealing what they were feeling. On their Facebook pages, they posted content that was “unemotional in nature and designed to elicit advice on how to deal with a matter at hand.”

De Choudhury and her fellow researchers said that a computer program could be created to detect which mothers suffered from postpartum depression. By identifying troubled mothers, someone (hopefully medical professionals) could point them to services where they could get help.

It is that last point that is most important to me. Identifying women who meet criteria for postpartum depression is only the first step. What happens next is the crucial one. Those identified must then be aided into getting timely treatment.

After all, how would you get someone to go for treatment if you identified them as possibly having the illness by their Facebook page? Isn’t this an invasion of their privacy? How likely is it that a woman would go for treatment if they were contacted by direct message, saying we evaluated your content on Facebook and have determined that you may be suffering from perinatal depression.

But I have another idea — why not expand the initiative to screen all women. How about a nationwide effort to provide an assessment to ALL women who deliver their babies at hospitals, with assisted home births or with midwives? Why not encourage obstetricians and midwives to do an assessment? It’s much more likely that the physician or midwife — who has been following the patient for nine months — could be more persuasive in getting the moms into treatment.

As I have often said, although I may differ on various points of PPD articles, I’m always grateful to see more focus on the illness and more research into helping women receive appropriate therapy.

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~ by ppdsus on March 7, 2015.

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