Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis
Research has shown that untreated postpartum depression can have serious consequences for mothers and their families. But for women in rural or remote areas, face-to-face therapy can be extremely difficult to access.
To help these women, Dr. Cindy-Lee Dennis, Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research at Women’s College Hospital, is rethinking how to offer therapy.
“We know that psychotherapy is a very effective treatment for postpartum depression yet women in remote areas often do not have access to it,” says Dennis. “So we decided to challenge the assumption that therapy has to be provided in a face-to-face setting.”
Dennis is leading a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of telephone-based interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) to treat postpartum depression. The impact could be profound – Dennis’s related research has already shown that for many mothers, postpartum depression can last past the first year postpartum.
We know that psychotherapy is a very effective treatment for postpartum depression yet women in remote areas often do not have access to it. So we decided to challenge the assumption that therapy has to be provided in a face-to-face setting.
“By making telephone-based therapies easily available to mothers with depression, we can address a serious barrier to health services and have a significant impact on the mental health of whole families,” says Dennis.
THE POWER OF MANY
Cindy-Lee Dennis works with diverse collaborators to create interventions that improve access to mental healthcare. At Women’s College Hospital, she works closely with psychiatrist Dr. Simone Vigod, who is also a scientist at Women’s College Research Institute.
- Vigod’s research is answering important questions about whether women with serious mental illness should remain on their medication during their pregnancies. Her most recent work has shown that postpartum depression is more prevalent in women living in urban areas.
- Vigod was selected to receive the 2012 NCDEU New Investigator Award, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology. She was also awarded the inaugural Clinician-Scientist Award through the Shirley Brown Chair in Women’s Mental Health Research and the Ontario Mental Health Foundation New Investigator Award (2013-2016).