A recent study presented in the journal “Nature” has shown how preventing depression during pregnancy or perinatal period can affect the overall health of the babies. The study findings presented on October 30 indicate the long-lasting positive impact of preventive interventions.
Importance of mood management in pregnant women
Ricardo Munoz, professor at Palo Alto University, is a renown expert for preventing and treating depression. He says that providing pregnant women with basic skills related to mood management may improve overall health across generations.
This may be due to the fact that better maternal health is a pre-requisite for the healthier development of babies. Munoz said that he has known about the significance of preventing or managing mental-health problems since the early 1970s.
But up till now, there wasn’t enough evidence from clinical trials to prove the helpfulness of preventive interventions and justify their implementation. Whereas, approaches originated from cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are used in these preventive interventions.
Two recent findings have highlighted the importance of preventing depression in pregnant women and in those who have given birth not long ago. The US Preventive Services Task Force involves a panel of individuals having expertise in evidence-based medicine.
In February, this panel has advised clinicians to offer counseling interventions to pregnant or postpartum women with an enhanced risk of perinatal depression. Moreover, last month, the US NASEM – National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, has also released a report regarding this matter.
It has called on several stakeholders, also including educators and policymakers, to avoid mental health issues while promoting a healthy emotional, mental, and behavioral development in women aged less than 25.
Besides two former NASEM reports on preventive interventions, Munoz was also a part of the committees that had prepared this report.
Introducing preventive interventions
According to Munoz’s statement, pregnant women may have far-reaching consequences and are perfect to work with. Doctors’ visits or prenatal classes can be used as an approach to introduce preventive interventions and improve overall health outcomes by preventing perinatal depression.
These interventions will promote the health of future generations as maternal depression may have led to preterm deliveries, low birth weight, or impaired cognitive development of children. In short, Munoz has highlighted the significance of preventing depression in mothers.
Additionally, he has also encouraged the use of technology to influence the greatest number of women throughout the world. Million of people can get access to evidence-based preventive interventions by using MOOIs (massive open online interventions).
MOOIs are available on the Internet without any charges and are quite similar to MOOCs – massive open online courses. Besides pregnant women, these apps, text-based interventions, and websites can also be helpful for other high-risk groups (adolescents).
In his report, Munoz has also explained the working of MOOIs, based on his massive efforts while working at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and UCSF. Additionally, while working there he has also developed a course – Mothers and Babies/Mamás y Bebés.
Munoz states that online tools are available throughout the world to prevent or manage depression. And can reduce global depression to one-half. The availability of these tools and knowledge can create a world with quite fewer people experiencing mental disorders and clinical depression.