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Peer Support Confirmed Effective by Medical Researchers

Posted Mar 01 2011 7:15am
A recent study out of Ann Arbor, Michigan  confirms what we knew all along...peer support is very effective as a component of care in people who experience depression.   This article in Medical News Today  describes the study which was the first of its kind to specifically isolate peer support as a factor in depression treatment and recovery.  Peer support as an added treatment option was found to be more effective than traditional care alone and , in fact, this type of support was found in the randomized trials completed to be just as effective in some cases as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy completed by therapists!

Knowing that medication and therapy were key in my complete recovery from PPD in 2007, I would never purport that peer support alone is a first line of fire for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.  I do believe that in most cases it can be an awesome addition to a treatment plan that might already include strategies such as therapy, medication, exercise, and a host of other components.  And, I will acknowledge that it has been my experience in interaction with women over three years that a few, mostly those who were experiencing very mild depression and adjustment difficulties after having first children, have indicated that peer support alone helped them to recover.

Peer support, while something that I did not get experience the benefits of during my postpartum depression and anxiety after having my son, has become integral to my health during this pregnancy.  Thanks to a "Pregnant After PPD" group that I formed a couple of months ago, I have felt so much hope and reassurance as I approach the end of pregnancy with #2 and grow closer to the postpartum period.  Knowing that these women, though they live in various places across the globe, are available to me and are walking this journey with me, is an incredible gift.  As stated in the article, peer support does indeed decrease feelings of isolation for me and is a great way to share health information and resources.

If you haven't yet explored peer support groups in your area, I encourage you to do so.  There are two great lists of groups that you can search...a list at Postpartum Progress and another at Postpartum Support International's website .
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