Informing maternal mental health policy, practice, and research in Latin America: the importance of contextual factors in the optimal treatment of postpartum depression

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Postpartum depression (PPD) is an important public health issue in Latin America (LA). However, research on the optimal way to treat PPD in the region when viewed through a ‘social and economic determinants of health’ lens is limited. This paper reviews regional experiences with PPD treatment to determine the degree to which tailored approaches that are responsive to the local context affect the successful treatment of PPD. The principal contribution is a conceptual framework that elucidates: (i) the causal connections between a myriad of social and economic processes through which PPD develops and PPD treatment services are provided; and (ii) the potential strategies for intervening along those pathways to optimize outcomes. The recommendation premised on this contextual perspective is for health-supportive social policies, integration of PPD interventions with perinatal services at primary care, and research of the effect of strategies aimed at mothers’ social and economic circumstances on treating PPD.
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