HealthDay News — For mothers with postpartum depressive symptoms, a social media-based parenting program leads to more rapid declines in depressive symptoms but does not affect responsive parenting, according to a study published online February 21 in Pediatrics.

James P. Guevara, MD, MPH, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues enrolled 75 women with mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms who were randomly assigned to a social media-based parenting program plus online depression treatment or depression treatment alone for 3 months. Sixty-six women completed the study.

The researchers found a more rapid decline in depressive symptoms for the parenting group vs the comparison group (adjusted Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale difference, −2.9 at 1 month). No significant group-by-time interactions were seen for the Parent-Child Early Relational Assessment, Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, or Parenting Sense of Competence scores. Of the women, 41% sought mental health treatment for worsening symptoms or suicidality. Greater parenting responsiveness was observed for women in the parenting group who exhibited greater engagement or reported mental health treatment.

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“Social media may be an important platform to provide parenting support for women with postpartum depressive symptoms when in-person participation is difficult, but greater attention to participant engagement and ensuring and accounting for mental health treatment are needed to improve parenting outcomes with social media-based parenting programs,” the authors write.

Guevara invented the Parent With Depression Program that is the subject of this study.

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