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New free app aims to help women with postpartum depression

By Tim Sandle     May 2, 2017 in Health
Postpartum depression is a common complication of child birth and can have a major impact for women and their families. A new app, offered for free, aims to help women through the assessment and treatment process.
Postpartum depression (or ‘postnatal depression) is a form of clinical depression, where the symptoms can include sadness, low energy, changes in sleeping and eating patterns; together with anxiety, and irritability. Higher risk groups include adolescent mothers and mothers of children with neurodevelopmental delays. Some women require hospitalization as a result of developing the mental illness. There is also, in the most severe cases, a risk of suicide.
The condition is considered of clinical concern when it extends for over two weeks. The proportion of women affected varies in different countries, although the figure is, in general, between 10 and 20 percent of women immediately after childbirth.
To assist women through the condition, a new health app has been co-developed by Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, who is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Women’s Mood Disorders at UNC Chapel Hill. The new app is called PPD ACT. Dr. Meltzer-Brody was recently recognized by The Triangle Medical Journal as one of the “Top 10 Women in Medicine.”
The app is designed to allow women to undertake a clinically screened survey, which is designed to to evaluate risk for postpartum depression based on clinically identified risk factors. The app will then indicate whether the user is likely to be suffering postpartum depression (and indicate if this is mild or severe, based on the diagnosis of the symptoms). The app also acts a gateway for resources for those who have postpartum depression.
There is also a research side to the app. For those who are diagnosed with severe postpartum depression the women have the opportunity to participate in study by providing a saliva sample using a “spit kit”, via the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. This will provide a DNA sample and it will be used as part of a study to determine genetic links to postpartum depression. The goal is to have 100,000 women from around the world participating in the study.
The app is available for free due to support from Apple. The technology company has worked with the National Institute of Mental Health and UNC Chapel Hill to create the digital platform. To date there have been 14,000 downloads. The app will also be made available (as of April 27, 2017) to Android users.
More about Depression, Postpartum depression, postpartum, Birth
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