Study - exercise helps new mums beat depression.
Byline: ELLA PICKOVER News Reporter
AEROBICS could help women suffering postnatal depression, Birmingham boffins have announced.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham say aerobic exercise should be considered for new mums showing signs of depression.
And physical activity could be a potential preventative measure among all women who have given birth, they add.
The academics examined data from 13 trials including 1,734 women. Their study, published in the British Journal of General Practice, concludes that exercise - either in group sessions, individually or when added to other interventions - is effective in reducing the baby blues.
The Birmingham university team points out that current UK clinical guidance recommends psychological therapy and antidepressants for postnatal depression.
But mums can be reluctant to take drugs and the availability of psychological therapies is often limited.
"Given the high prevalence of postpartum depression and the potential for exercise to be a low-cost, freely available intervention, aerobic exercise should be considered as a management option for postpartum women with depressive symptoms and as a potential preventative measure generally in postpartum women," they say. Dr Judy Shakespeare, spokeswoman for perinatal mental health for the Royal College of GPs, said: "Physical activity has numerous benefits for all patients' physical and mental health, so it's not surprising that this study has found it to have a positive effect on reducing some perinatal mental health issues, such as postnatal depression, in new mothers.
"GPs are highly trained to take into account all factors potentially affecting a patient's health when making a diagnosis, including lifestyle factors, and we will use this to develop a treatment plan based on the individual patient in front of us, in conversation with them."
Meanwhile, a separate study published in the same journal examines women's experiences with seeking help for postnatal depression.
It concludes found that some women did not seek help because of "stigma". The authors said that women felt under pressure to be "good mothers" and that "failure" impacted negatively on their mental health and their likelihood to seek help.
"The combined fear of stigma and the high expectations that women have of themselves further undermine their self-worth, increasing distress," researcers add.