About 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression, also known as perinatal mood anxiety disorder (PMAD), according to CDC data, but there is a shortage of mental health providers nationwide. Many people may find it difficult to get care because
Researchers at the University of Texas are using artificial intelligence to fill that gap, reports KRIS 6 News in Texas.
Researchers are partnering with the nonprofit Postpartum Support International to test a new AI chatbot that women can use through a free app.
The chatbot’s algorithms are trained to handle common postpartum questions and issues, such as networking difficulties and breastfeeding challenges.
The research team found that many of the women surveyed had trouble finding care because of the “stigma” associated with PMAD.
“Many of them just felt very misunderstood and disabled,” said Miriam Mickelson, one of the researchers.
“Not only is it very difficult to find the time, money, and availability to meet someone who might be able to help you, but even if you do, you are likely to meet someone who does not meet your needs. there is.”
In announcing the project on its website, the University of Texas said: “This project will develop a chatbot logic structure based on research from different mothers to enhance their ability to better understand what types of support they seek.” from someone. “
“As a result, our findings have the potential to better understand the social and cultural dynamics that shape what types of support people combating postpartum depression seek.”
Symptoms of postpartum depression vary from person to person.
According to the CDC, common warning signs include feelings of anger, crying more than usual, being separated from loved ones, feeling numb, feeling separated from the baby, worrying about hurting the baby, For example, they feel that they cannot take care of their children.
Michelle Rouse, founder and CEO of Cass, an AI startup and mental health assistant, has firsthand experience leveraging chatbot technology for women suffering from postpartum depression.
“Duke University used our chatbot technology to help women struggling with postpartum,” San Francisco-based Rouse told Fox News Digital.
“We have jointly published two peer-reviewed research papers on its impact.”
Rouse said AI technology is particularly effective in reaching out to mothers in rural areas.
“In the case of our postnatal chatbot, we have implemented a program in Kenya for young mothers in rural areas,” he said. “In the Kenyan community, the service was available in both the local language and English.”
Chatbots can be very effective in providing cost-effective self-help support, he added.
“From our work with our partners in Texas, we have learned that it is important to have this program available in Spanish. It helps,” he said.
Potential Risks and Limitations
Rouse noted that one of the limitations of the chatbot being developed at the University of Texas is that it uses an app.
“It’s the logical choice now, but there are some limitations,” he says. “Our research studies show that the people most in need of this kind of support live in rural areas. Not everyone in these areas has consistent access to an internet connection or smartphone. there is no.”
Rouse noted that having the right support structure in place is also very important.
“If not properly integrated with the usual pathway of care, it can affect the quality of care,” he warned. “Thus, it is very important that as soon as someone says ‘I want to talk to someone,’ they are turned over to a crisis counselor or referred to a telemedicine visit by their health insurance plan.”
Monte Swarup, M.D., board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist in Chandler, Ariz., and founder of the HPV information site HPV HUB, has nothing to do with UT, but talks about using AI chatbots for women suffering from postpartum depression. I gave my opinion.
“Although AI chatbots may provide useful support to help women suffering from postpartum depression, it is important to note that this is a tool and not a substitute for treatment or therapy. ‘” she told FOX News Digital.
AI doesn’t have the ability to monitor a patient’s progress as accurately as a human does, she pointed out.
“We also wouldn’t be able to measure whether a patient is recovering,” Swarup said. “AI is not going to replace human empathy and support.”
While chatbots can be a valuable addition to holistic treatment plans and mental health resources, more research is needed to determine their benefits in helping women with postpartum depression. Mr. Swarup pointed out that it is necessary.
The University of Texas expects AI chatbots to be available to women by 2024.