The researchers are on to us, friends. They’ve started to become interested in the impact social media can have on postpartum depression and anxiety, in terms of both identifying moms who might suffer and supporting them when they do.
The MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health recently reviewed studies that took a look at Twitter and Facebook’s potential role in PPD awareness and support. First, they looked at a recent study conducted by Microsoft in which they used Twitter to follow women who’d recently given birth and looked for emotional signs and behavioral clues in what they were tweeting. They found they could predict with pretty good accuracy which women were at high risk for postpartum depression. To learn more, click here. MGH also shared information on an older study in which Facebook status updates were used to help identify whether someone was suicidal.
I think there is so much potential here. So. Much. According to MediaBistro, eight out of ten moms (80 percent) use social media regularly, with 90 percent of those having visited Facebook in the past 30 days, and just over one-third (37 percent) hanging out on Twitter over that same period. A 2012 Arbiton/Edison study found that 58% of moms said the internet is more essential to their lives than newspapers, radio and television.
We are using social media. A lot. We are sharing what is happening to us, how we feel and when we need help in our tweets, on our blogs and in our status updates, including our fears and concerns about postpartum depression and having babies. And social media, in turn, is responding, jumping in to help where it can. I was enormously proud to see Postpartum Progress cited as a leading example by MGH of how this is happening. I hope those in the reproductive psychiatry research field will continue to look at the positive impact social media can have on women with postpartum depression and anxiety, and how we can partner with the healthcare providers, health insurers and other interested parties to support the mental health of pregnant and new moms.