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Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy as an adjunctive treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety

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eMediNexus Editorial    02 June 2018

Moderate-to-severe depression and anxiety are experienced by numerous women in the postpartum period. Pharmacotherapy is often the first-line treatment option for women with postpartum depression. Many breastfeeding mothers hesitate to increase their medication dose or consider adding a medication, despite incomplete response, owing to concerns about potential adverse effects on their newborn. Non-pharmacological interventions can be considered among these women for complete symptom remission. A study published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders assessed the usefulness of an 8-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) intervention as an adjunctive treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety. Women with a diagnosis of postpartum depression/anxiety within the first year following childbirth were recruited in the study. Participants were assigned either to the MBCT intervention group (n = 14) or the treatment-as-usual control group (n = 16), and completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire, and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) at baseline and at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, and 3 months following baseline. Multivariate analyses revealed that depression and anxiety levels decreased, and mindfulness levels increased, in the MBCT group, but not in the control group. MBCT intervention seemed to have had a clinically significant effect on participants. MBCT was thus shown to be a potential adjunctive, non-pharmacological treatment for postpartum depression/anxiety that does not completely remit with pharmacotherapy.

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