Using Telehealth to Effectively Manage Postpartum Depression

Telehealth is often utilized to deliver virtual healthcare for prevalent conditions, such as diabetes, cardiac disorders, skin-related disorders, and more. With the recent advancements in the industry, telehealth has now ventured into the field of perinatal mental health, which, along with postnatal health has unfortunately been largely ignored and neglected.

In the United States, approximately 1 in 7 new mothers experience postpartum depression symptoms. About 10-20% of these mothers will be formally diagnosed with clinical postpartum depression.

New mothers experiencing postpartum depression symptoms may not have the ability to leave their homes and seek the necessary care. Thus, telehealth can be an effective way to manage postpartum depression. This blog post explores the benefits of telehealth as a tool to help new mothers successfully manage postpartum depression.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

After a woman gives birth to a child, she undergoes a wide array of emotional and physical changes that influence her behavior. Though not all women go through postpartum depression, the frequency is high. As many as 75% of people experience postpartum blues following delivery.

Certain mood swings are associated with postpartum depression, including tearfulness, confusion, fatigue, change in appetite, inconsistent sleeping patterns, lowered libido, and mild elation. Women who have a previous history of depression, neuroticism, and premenstrual depression are at a higher risk of developing postpartum depression.

Unfortunately, there is no test or biological measure to predict the factors of postpartum. It is often mistaken for a regular mood swing, and is hence left undiagnosed and untreated (especially in third-world countries).

What Is The Mechanism of Postpartum Depression?

Three main changes occur in the body of a woman after just giving birth: chemical, social, and psychological.

The interplay between these three changes influences the symptoms of the postnatal female. Chemical changes cater to a significant fluctuation of hormones. The correlation between this hormonal imbalance and depression is still unclear. However, what’s known is that the level of sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) is scaled by a tenfold increase during pregnancy. After birth, there is an abrupt decrease in these sex hormones. Neuroinflammatory and circuit mechanisms also play a role in postpartum depression.

How Does Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring Work for Postpartum Depression?

Remote patient monitoring technology allows doctors to extract more data about their patients’ concerns. Their emotional, behavioral, and physical health conditions become well-monitored and more efficiently tracked than conventional treatments offered. This allows patients to more effectively track triggers and administer care programs while reducing the chances of relapse.

Virtual healthcare platforms, like Trapollo Converge, offer various options and packages to allow patients access to tailor-made healthcare needs. These programs include Remote Patient Monitoring, Self-Management programs, and Chronic Disease Management programs. Each program addresses the patients’ specific concerns and needs.

Through the use of IoT (internet of things) technology, virtual care platforms allow devices or adapters to be paired in to relay accurate information to the patient app that they are synced with.

The exquisite blend between technology and healthcare makes virtual care a great option for providing broader and premium postpartum depression care.

Is Telehealth Effective for Treating Postpartum Depression?

Yes, studies have shown that telehealth is effective for treating postpartum depression. A 2021 study demonstrated that postpartum depression could be effectively tackled using the telehealth model. Another study conducted in 2020 explored the effectiveness of telemedicine interventions delivered exclusively during the postpartum depression in mothers without a history, or existing mental disorders.

Other studies that directly monitored mental health improvement for telehealth patients of postpartum depression also resulted in positive results. Women who received treatment for their postpartum depression via telehealth had statistically significant improvement (P<.0001), and the completion rate for the therapy was 80%.

More specific studies explored the benefits of mobile apps for treating postpartum depression, also producing successful results. A systematic review on the influence of mHealth interventions during the perinatal period on maternal psychosocial outcomes expressed the success of telehealth as a treatment modality for postpartum depression.

Mobile health technology saw additional utility in less affluent countries. Another systematic review was conducted in 2017 to explore the effectiveness of mHealth during the perinatal period for mothers in low-and middle-income countries. It encouraged increased maternal contact antenatally and postnatally in such females after receiving mHealth education.

Finally, research shows that phone-based strategies can also result in effective treatment. A nationwide randomized controlled trial was conducted in Canada, in 2020, to assess the success rate of telephone-based, nurse-delivered interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. 241 participants were divided into two groups–one that took part in interpersonal therapy and the other that did not. The former group was 4.5 times less clinically depressed.

Benefits of Using Telehealth for Postpartum Depression

Benefits of Using Telehealth Treatment Postpartum Depression

When COVID-19 took over, access to perinatal mental healthcare became limited. Individuals who sought the presence of their therapist or physician could no longer avail the benefits of a counseling session.

Apart from the many things this pandemic has taught us, it has also highlighted the need for telehealth to manage depression. The efficiency of telehealth led the senate to pass a bill set out to expand telehealth eligibility permanently.

A study conducted in a Massachusetts clinic concluded that the results of using telehealth postpartum and walk-in counseling sessions were similar. Both of these modalities were just as effective. However, telehealth has a broader scope of benefits to offer.

1. Ease of access

New mothers find it hard to make time to get out of the house and set their errands straight. They are caught up with their child’s needs so intimately that they tend to overlook their mental health. With telehealth, postnatal women can manage depression and postpartum symptoms more easily without making strenuous efforts. The ease of access also empowers the patient to become compliant with their appointments.

2. Wider coverage

Most remote or rural areas limit access to pre and post-natal healthcare delivery. Postpartum depression is one of the most neglected areas in the healthcare field. Women, especially those with limited access to healthcare, may choose to ignore their symptoms even though it takes a huge toll on them. Telehealth can be the answer for people in remote and rural struggling with postpartum depression.

3. Broader Access to Postpartum Telehealth Depression Specialists

Not every tertiary hospital is equipped with the best medical specialists. This limits the options of uniform healthcare for depression-ridden mothers. As a result, many resort to navigating life as usual while lacking the proper treatment for postpartum depression. With telehealth, postpartum depression can be managed by the best psychiatrists and therapists in the world. Telehealth allows new mothers to access high-profile professionals, regardless of their area.

4. Cost-Effective for Chronic Postpartum Depression

When a disorder takes the chronic route, the patient needs to be managed frequently. Especially in the case of depression, regular counseling sessions become the need of the hour. And since postpartum depression is classified as a Major Depressive Disorder in psychiatric nomenclature, it would demand an arrangement of multiple therapy sessions.

Telehealth can assure quality and prompt sessions that are relatively easy on the pocket. They also save gas money and a whole lot of energy.

5. Increased Patient Compliance

Women suffering from postpartum depression are typically more likely to miss or skip appointments than someone seeking treatment for a cardiac disorder, or a traumatic blow to the head. Lack of consistency decreases the quality and results of the treatment offered.

A recent virtual mental health study by MDLIVE put Telehealth’s rate for no-shows between 30 and 40 percent. Under the MDLIVE program, that figure was only 3.5 percent for Telehealth appointments.

6. Effective Medication Adherence

Constant and frequent contact between patients and their physicians can boast improved treatment results. The patient is more likely to stick to the advised drug regimen this way. Thanks to telehealth, practitioners can maintain constant contact at home with patients to improve their adherence to prescribed medications.

Reach Postpartum Depressions Worldwide with Trapollo

Trapollo’s experience and expertise in telehealth have enabled us to aid healthcare providers, payers, and medical device manufacturers in their goal to reach millions of struggling patients. We equip healthcare providers and hospitals with the technology and tools to conduct Remote Patient Monitoring and Comprehensive At-Home Diagnostics nationally.

Since postpartum depression demands counseling sessions, medical adherence, and regular monitoring, Trapollo offers solutions that increase patient satisfaction and allows healthcare providers to gain greater insight into patient needs and day-to-day health..

Telehealth has sized up by a whopping 52%  between 2005 and 2014. Modern times call for modern solutions. Trapollo is here to help you address postpartum depression remotely  – contact us to bring your vision of connected health to life today!

meredith-strachan-headshot

Meredith leads strategy and execution of Trapollo's comprehensive marketing strategy including events, digital, content, campaigns and social media. She has a passion for bringing awareness to innovative, digital healthcare solutions through marketing programs enabling organizations to fully engage patients and improve patient experiences.