A Systems Approach to Postpartum Depression: Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment




Thompson, Erika
Adhikari, Sujita


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A Systems Approach to Postpartum Depression: Opportunities for Prevention and Treatment Sujita Adhikari MPH Candidate, Erika L. Thompson, PhD, MPH, CPH Dept. of Health Behavior and Health Systems, UNT Health Science Center, Fort Worth TX,76107 Background Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a common mental health issue that occurs in women after childbirth. The depressive symptoms in affected mother are often manifested as a feeling of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness, insomnia, excessive crying, extreme concern about child, fatigue and suicidal thoughts. Biological factors (e.g. hormonal changes) and psychological factors (e.g. stress, lack of social support, low socio-economic status, abusive relationships, greater work pressure, the occurrence of adverse life events, previous history of depression) are risk factors for PPD. In 2018, 14.7% of women in Texas who gave live birth experienced postpartum depression. Due to the complexity of this health issue, systems thinking is necessary to identify organizations aligned with addressing PPD, which can then help design effective interventions to minimize the potentially harmful effects of PPD. Objective The main objective is to identify organizations in the Fort Worth region that are involved in postpartum depression prevention or treatment and map organization connections. Methodology A web search was conducted in November 2018 to identify organizations and government bodies who address postpartum depression. Interconnection was established amongst these organizations to analyze using a system thinking approach. Results Three national-level organizations (e.g. Medicaid), four state-level organizations (e.g. Texas Department of Health and Human Services) and three local level organizations (e.g. MHMR of Tarrant County) were identified in the Fort Worth region. These organizations when analyzed were found connected with each other forming a system which operated to address PPD in this region. Conclusion These major ten organizations that are dedicated to working on postpartum depression are interconnected. The organizations operate at different levels to form a complex system. While organizations are making a positive impact on this issue, it is still necessary to dive deeper and understand the underlying factors for this problem. By understanding the complex system for PPD prevention and opportunities for integration, better mental health outcomes can be achieved.