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03-29 Online intervention significantly increases depression treatment rates in adolescent mothers, finds study

Posted in Depression

Online intervention significantly increases depression treatment rates in adolescent mothers, finds study

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a widely researched area among adult women, but there are limited studies to address PPD among adolescent mothers. Despite declining significantly since its peak in 1991, teen pregnancies and birth rates for American teens aged 15-19 are among the highest of industrialized economies. Adolescent motherhood is linked to a range of adverse effects in teens, including mental illnesses, such as depression, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Moreover, adolescent mothers face several barriers which prevent them from seeking mental health treatment.

A study by the University of Louisville (UofL) in Kentucky investigated the efficacy of an online program in improving depression treatment rates among teen mothers. Results of the study, published in the Archives of Women’s Health in December 2017, showed that the online intervention led to “significant changes in attitude, perceived control, intention to seek mental health treatment, and actually seeking depression treatment” in both rural and urban counties in Kentucky. The study also highlighted that an online intervention was an inexpensive method of increasing depression treatment rates.

The participants comprised over 200 teen mothers (average age 18.2 years) from Kentucky’s rural, urban and suburban counties. Some 89.2 percent participants were African-Americans, 51.7 percent had not completed their high school education, and 97.1 percent had given birth in the previous year. The research was funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was conducted between 2013 and 2016. The online program comprised videos of teen mothers’ experiences with PPD, depression treatment, questions and answers, and local/national mental health resources.

Unaddressed postpartum depression associated with several negative consequences

According to M. Cynthia Logsdon, professor and associate chief of nursing for research at UofL School of Nursing and the study’s lead researcher, untreated PPD impedes a healthy mother-child relationship, the proper discharge of activities at the workplace and in school, and the ability of a mother to raise children. PPD can also have a detrimental impact on the child’s development and capacity to form a bond with the mother.

The study highlighted that depressive symptoms are experienced by nearly 50 percent of the estimated 400,000 adolescents aged 18 and below who have children in the United States every year. However, less than a quarter of this vulnerable population heeds recommendations regarding the assessment of depression and its treatment. Previous studies have suggested that teen mothers experience significantly higher rates of pre- and post-natal depression (16-44 percent) than adult mothers and non-pregnant counterparts (5-20 percent).

A few past studies also established an association between adolescent motherhood and the risk of suicidal behavior and substance use. Although a decline was often observed in substance use among pregnant teens during pregnancy, it was found to pick up again after delivery which lasted well into adulthood. The drug-taking behavior corresponded with the chronic and persistent mood symptoms affecting this population. Adolescent mothers were also found to have a high exposure to community and interpersonal violence, increasing their risk for developing PTSD.

Teen depression is a serious issue

Recent years have seen a surge in teen depression rates in the U.S. Between 2005 and 2015, there was a significant increase in depression among Americans aged 12 and older, with youth showing the most rapid increase. While overall depression increased from 6.6 percent in 2005 to 7.3 percent in 2015, it increased from 8.7 percent to 12.7 percent during the same period for adolescents aged 12 to 17. Adolescent girls have a higher exposure to interpersonal dependent stress which leads to elevated levels of rumination and depressive symptoms.

In 2016, 3.1 million adolescents aged 12-17 (12.8 percent) had a major depressive episode (MDE), and 2.2 million adolescents (9 percent) had a MDE with severe impairment. However, depression treatment was received by only 40.9 percent youth with MDE and 46.7 percent youth who had a MDE with severe impairment. Untreated depression hampers daily life functions, harms relationships with loved ones and induces feelings of listlessness.

If your child is battling depression, contact Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, one of the most reputed teenage depression treatment centers in the U.S. We offer intensive therapeutic interventions in a structured and friendly environment. Contact our 24/7 helpline or chat online to learn more about our teen depression treatment programs.

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