Evaluating cognitive behavioral therapy as a solution for postnatal depression in economically disadvantaged regions

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health


Purpose: Postnatal depression (PND) impacts numerous women after childbirth, leading to various impairments in their lives. Mental health interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), need further evaluation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) where resources may be scarce. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of CBT in treating PND in women from LMICs, comparing it to standard care.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted following the PRISMA Statement 2020 guidelines. Databases such as PubMed, CINAHL Plus, Cochrane Library, and PsycINFO were searched until September 2022. A modified Delphi process was employed to identify relevant studies. The primary outcome was mean depression scores, measured by the Edinburgh postnatal depression scale at baseline and post-intervention.
Results: Out of 487 studies identified, five trials were included, totaling 1056 participants (520 in the intervention group and 536 in the comparator group). At baseline, a minor, insignificant positive effect size was found (Cohen's d = 0.1, 95% CI = - 0.15, 0.35). Post-CBT, the intervention group showed significant improvements in depression scores (Cohen's d = - 1.9, 95% CI = - 3.8, 0). When accounting for the influence of one study, (Ngai et al., Psychother Psychosom 84:294-303, 2015), which held substantial weight in the initial analysis, the effect size was adjusted to d = 0.5, highlighting a lesser but still significant difference.
Conclusions: CBT appears to be effective in improving PND symptoms among women in LMICs and may be considered a first-line treatment for at-risk mothers, including those who are displaced. However, the significant impact of one study on the results emphasizes the need for more rigorous research. The study also highlights the challenges and limitations of providing psychotherapies across LMICs, emphasizing the need for culturally adapted and contextually appropriate interventions to ensure successful implementation and sustainability of mental health care for postnatal women in these settings.


Voume, issue and pagination are not provided by the auhor/publisher.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Archives of Women's Mental Health