Czech app helps new moms overcome “baby blues”

Many women suffer from depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after childbirth. The Kogito app, launched 18 months ago, is a form of “first aid” accessible to women who may not be able to afford therapy for financial or time reasons.

Photo: Kogito

"I experienced a wave of total despair after the birth of my second child. I felt completely useless and a failure. I was convinced I was a terrible mother.”

Adéla, is a mother of two and one of many women who suffer from bouts of post-natal depression.

Adéla's family and friends reached out and helped by pitching in and getting her involved in a therapy group at the Mother Care center, where she shared her feelings with women who had similar problems.

Doctors confirm that most new moms experience postpartum "baby blues" after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping which can last for several weeks. But some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum or peripartum depression because it can start during pregnancy and continue after childbirth. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

Given the high number of women suffering from various post-natal blues, health experts at the National Institute of Mental Health developed an app named Kogito, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy, to assess the type and gravity of the problem, provide first aid or recommend a visit to a specialist.

The user registers and fills out a detailed questionnaire with regard to her mental and physical problems and feelings.  The app then uses an algorithm to assess whether she is suffering from depression, anxiety, or some other problem and provides basic “first aid” similar to that which she would get at a joint therapy group session.

Antonín Šebela from the National Institute of Mental Health says that the app helps new mums to understand what the problem is, that it is a common occurrence and how to go about addressing it.

Photo: Kogito

"One learns about the problem, what triggers these emotions, how one's thoughts and emotions can influence behavioral patterns and how to get them under control in situations that bring on depression or anxiety attacks. There is practical advice on what to do in different situations”.

Adela says that while she enjoyed getting support from other mums in group therapy the Kogito app was helpful in many ways.

"I found it very practical to plan my day and keep a diary to record to write down my thoughts and feelings. By writing down what aid techniques I was using –such as breathing exercises – and how I was feeling, I could look back and see what works for me. The app helps you to understand what is happening -to know more about yourself".

The app will also assess whether the user’s mental health problems are really serious. If the answers to the questions give cause for serious concern, it will recommend contacting a specialist or the nearest crisis center.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Zuzana Machálková
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