Healthcare workers need better training in emotional intelligence to recognise depressive tendencies in new mums and help them adequately, researchers said.
The joy of having a baby is often accompanied by depression among new mums.
"The health services often fail to recognise women who suffer from postnatal depression or anxiety. Many of the women I interviewed had experienced rejection and a lack of understanding from health personnel," said associate professor Kristin Akerjordet at the University of Stavanger.
According to her, by training health personnel in emotional intelligence, they will be better equipped to prevent women from developing depressive illnesses. She surveyed 250 postnatal women. Of the 30 women she interviewed, 15 had experienced depressive emotions in connection with pregnancy and birth.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to identify and manage the emotions of one's self and others in a constructive manner. Being able to access emotions and to reflect upon them are key elements of this ability.
"EI enables us to form good relationships with other people, thereby improving the quality of our performances as nurses, midwives and doctors. EI is an important factor in promoting good care and effective health service management," said Akerjordet.
Health personnel could be guiding and supporting individuals or groups of pregnant women in how to utilize their EI as a tool in managing their everyday emotions.
By teaching women EI, they would raise awareness of their reactions to painful experiences. Groups of health workers could teach women a strategy for mastering these feelings, and thereby prevent future depressions, she suggests.
While working on her thesis, Akerjordet developed two scales for evaluating her 250 respondents' emotional intelligence-aiming to map out their creativity, self-command, self-knowledge and social skills.
Women with a high degree of EI possess greater self-knowledge and a better understanding of their own depressive emotions than women low a lower EI, the study indicated.
Akerjordet also found that EI enforces the women's resilience, enabling them to tackle opposition and depressions.