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Objectives. First, to establish the efficacy of psychological interventions versus routine primary care for the management of postnatal depression (PND). Secondly, to provide a direct comparison of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) versus counselling and, finally, to compare the relative value of group and individual delivery formats.

Design. The study involved 192 depressed women drawn from a large community screening programme in Melbourne, Australia and allocated to cognitive behaviour therapy, counselling, or routine primary care. Baseline and post-intervention measures of depression and anxiety were collected in the form of validated self-report inventories.

Method. Women were screened in the community and diagnosis of depression confirmed with a standardized psychiatric interview. Interventions were of 12 weeks duration, including three partner sessions, and adhered to a structured manual.

Results. Psychological intervention per se was superior to routine care in terms of reductions in both depression and anxiety following intervention.

Conclusions. For those women with PND, psychological intervention is a better option than routine care, leading to clinically significant reduction of symptoms. Counselling may be as effective as group cognitive behaviour therapy. The benefits of psychological intervention may be maximized by being delivered on a one-to-one basis.