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Health visitors should screen for postnatal depression

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Health visitors should be trained to identify symptoms of postnatal depression and deliver psychological interventions, latest study results suggest.

UK researchers identified 418 women from over 100 general practices in England who had postnatal depression six weeks after giving birth

The women then received either intervention from a health visitor trained to identify depressive symptoms, or usual care.

Those in the intervention group also received hour-long psychological therapy sessions from the health visitor for eight weeks, based on either cognitive behavioural therapy or person-centred principles.

The researchers found that – six months after giving birth – 46% of the women in the control group still had post natal depression, compared to just 34% of those in the intervention group.

‘This trial provides new evidence of the effectiveness of a package of training for health visitors to identify symptoms of depression postnatally and to provide psychologically informed sessions,’ they said online in the BMJ.

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