Local doctors being trained to diagnose, treat mothers with postpartum depression

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Focused on improving the mental state of patients, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has disclosed that health professionals will soon be trained to diagnose and treat women with prenatal and postpartum depression.

The minister on Friday said postpartum depression is a serious mental illness that many pregnant women develop. He said recent studies show that postpartum depression can develop during the second or third trimester (prenatal) or after the pregnant woman delivers her baby.

From that point up to about 12 months afterward, some mothers could become very depressed, Dr Anthony said.

Psychiatrists attached to the Ministry of Health have joined other specialists in obstetric care to develop a programme with a main focus on recognising symptoms of postpartum depression in women.

“One of the things that we are doing is to improve the care that we give to mothers so we have focused a lot on pregnancy -first, second and third trimester- so that delivery is safe but we also recognise that after delivery some mothers develop what is called postpartum depression and we recongise this and want to create a programme to prevent depression,” the Health Minister explained.

“This programme that we are offering now would be a more integrated programme where during pregnancy we can screen for and detect depression and offer either counselling or anti-depressive medication.”

The primary healthcare workers will be the beneficiaries of the training programme to understand the signs and symptoms of depression and be able to properly treat these persons. Dr Anthony said this pilot programme will commence in certain areas before it is expanded to every region.

This will add to some 200 doctors and medexes who were last year trained so that they can identify depression.

The training was facilitated by the World Health Organization (WHO). It was a six-week programme comprising several modules and the Health Minister said within the “next couple of years” all of these healthcare workers should be trained.

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