UH psychology prof honored for depression research

In a fitting tribute, UH honored retiring psychology professor Lynn A. Rehm Friday and Saturday at a conference where the research presented fell closely in line with the honoree’s accomplished body of work.

Rehm is founder and director of the University’s Depression Research Clinic, which offers group and self-management therapy as well as performing extensive research on depression.

The conference, titled The Etiology, Assessment and Treatment of Depression in Women and Girls, saw presentations focused on topics such as maternal depression, suicide and assessing and treating depression in women.

‘Postpartum depression captured me for the rest of my professional career. It started with Lynn and continued with the University of Iowa,’ Rehm’s former student Michael O’Hara said.

O’Hara, a University of Iowa psychology professor, said depression is the second leading cause of disability among women aged 15 to 44. He presented research findings on prenatal depression, which begins before or during pregnancy and continues for up to one year after. ‘

‘Depression during pregnancy and life events such as difficulty of child care, lack of support or support of marital support had a great deal of consistency with the studies, but socio-demographic and hormonal issues had very little evidence toward the cause,’ O’Hara said.

O’Hara said that postpartum depression is common and women should remain in contact with health care professionals after childbirth.

Alice Carter, University of Massachusetts psychology professor and former student of Rehm, discussed depressive symptoms among mothers raising young children with autism spectrum disorders.

‘In Massachusetts, there are over 1,300 children under the age of 3 who are receiving autistic treatment and it has increased in the last six years,’ Carter said. ‘Parents who recognize these symptoms early on and come in for treatment should be applauded.’

Carter’s research takes a lifespan family system approach rather than a traditional assessment approach.’

‘Over the three-year study period, children aren’t changing much in their autism symptoms and parents aren’t changing in depressive symptoms over time,’ Carter said.’ ‘Overall, women raising children with autism symptoms have elevated depression scores.’

Carter is the director of the UMass graduate program of clinical psychology, but she said her research career began as a shy graduate student working under Rehm.

‘One of the core things is (Rehm) allowed students to pursue research questions they were passionate about, even if it wasn’t immediately up his alley. I think also what drew all of us to (Rehm) is his integrity and curiosity,’ Carter said. ‘(His) track record is unbelievable and really just remarkable.’

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