University of Liverpool scientists have devised a new therapy programme that will help depressed new mums in developing countries beat the blues.
Professor Atif Rahman from the School of Population, Community and Behavioural Sciences was the one who developed the therapy programme while working as a Wellcome Trust Career Fellow in Tropical Medicine in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
"Depression is one of the leading causes of mental illness in the world and when the condition affects mothers with newborn babies, it can lead to serious consequences" Lancet quoted him as saying.
He added: "The impacts include low birth-weight, poor growth, frequent diarrhoea and the mother failing to ensure the child is properly immunised. These conditions tend to remain untreated in countries like Pakistan where only a fraction of the Government's budget is spent on health."
Designed for being integrated into the routine work of ordinary village-based health workers, the programme has already been tested in Rawalpindi.
Community health workers visiting expectant mothers are trained to use principles of cognitive behaviour therapy as treatment.
Sufferers of depression attend sessions every week in the last month of pregnancy, followed by three sessions in the first post-natal month, and nine monthly sessions thereafter.
The largest trial of the treatment of depression using community health workers from any country in the developing world involved 903 mothers, of which 463 belonged to the therapy group.
The mothers from this control group were twice as likely to be depressed as those given the therapy after six and 12 months.
The research is published in the Lancet.