Researchers Rank Top 5 Postpartum Depression Advice Websites

Pospartum Depression
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Researchers have determined that the majority of websites about postpartum depression offer either little or outdated advice. As a result, a systematic search using specific keywords followed by rigorous analysis of websites offering advice for postpartum depression has led researchers to rank the top 5 postpartum depression advice websites for new mothers to go to for online information and help.

A Google search for advice or information about postpartum depression results in over 2.5 million websites. However, where quantity is non-lacking, quality is. According to Health Psychologists Donna Moore and Dr. Susan Ayers, researchers from the University of Sussex, informative and up to date online help for women suffering from postpartum depression is difficult to find.

According to Dr. Ayers, “The internet is often the first port of call for people worried about health issues. This is particularly the case for women suffering from depressive illness following the birth of a baby because they many find it difficult to leave the house with a young infant and, like all mental health issues, there is the fear of being stigmatized. Using the internet, therefore, provides a way of seeking reassurance, information and advice anonymously from home. Effective web sites are therefore important in directing women to the professional help they need while giving them the confidence to ask for it.”

However, her colleague Ms. Moore points out that it’s not just information that is needed, but useable information that is accurate and comprehensive.

“Most websites did encourage women to seek medical help. However, information tended to be about depressive symptoms and largely ignored other forms of postnatal illness, namely anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and puerperal psychosis,” says Ms. Moore. “This could reinforce the common misconception that postnatal mental illness is solely depression or simply an extension of the ‘baby blues’…it is essential that websites provide accurate and comprehensive information and advice for mothers and their families. Mothers need to be informed that if they get help they will get better.”

For example, having the “Baby Blues” where a new mother feels teary-eyed and moody, has difficulty sleeping and is feeling overwhelmed is normal after giving birth and typically goes away within two weeks.

With postpartum depression, however, feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness that can interfere with the bonding and care of a newborn is a more serious health matter that lasts longer and could turn into a deeper level of depression called “postpartum psychosis.”

Postpartum psychosis manifests in behaviors such as where a new mother may feel cut off from her baby, may see and hear things that aren't there, may have fleeting thoughts of suicide or of harming her baby, and may act on these feelings. One tragic example is the 2001 murder case of Andrea Yates who drowned her five children in a bathtub in her Houston home and was diagnosed as mentally incompetent and suffering from postpartum psychosis.

The distinctions between the Baby Blues, normal postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis are important for a new mother to understand so that she will know when and what level of help she needs, and where to get help.

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To help women find the information and advice they need on postpartum depression, the researchers searched for relevant websites using the terms “postnatal depression,” “postnatal illness,” “postpartum depression” and “postpartum illness” in their search engine queries. The top 25 websites listed from each search were then evaluated for accuracy of information, available resources, overall quality and had to be exclusively focused on postpartum mental health and/or postpartum mental illness.

From their analysis, the researchers selected their top 5 postpartum depression advice website choices for new moms and some additional and overlapping choices for health professionals.

For new mothers they chose:

• www.panda.org.au
• www.hapis.org.uk
• www.postpartumhealthalliance.org
• www.postpartum.net
• www.pndsa.co.za

For health professionals they chose:

• www.postpartum.net
• www.postpartumhealthalliance.org
• www.babybluesconnection.org
• www.postpartumsupport.com
• www.postpartumeducationandsupport.com

The results of their study are published in the journal Archives of Women’s Mental Health under the title, “A review of postnatal mental health websites: help for healthcare professionals and patients.”

The researchers are continuing their study of postpartum depression advice websites by currently investigating how women with postpartum depression use and benefit from resources on the internet.

Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile

Reference: “A review of postnatal mental health websites: help for healthcare professionals and patients” Archives of Women’s Mental Health Vol. 14, Number 6, 443-452, Donna Moore and Susan Ayers

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