Many pregnant women struggling with depression do not want to take medications because of the risk factors, which include low birth weight and premature birth.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who are looking for ways to make alternative forms of treatment easily available for women, are examining whether online tools can be helpful.

Women participating in this new study can use a computer program to keep track of their moods, learn about symptoms of depression, and participate in role-playing exercises.

Video tutorials explain how treatment works, and how depression affects people's lives.

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Psychiatrist Deborah Kim, who is leading this research at the Penn Center for Women's Behavioral Wellness, says the online tools do not replace meeting with a therapist, but make those required visits shorter and less frequent.

"Lack of time, transportation, money, child care are all barriers to getting treatment for pregnant women, so we think that hopefully using the computer will be helpful in terms of increasing access to treatment," Kim said.

Kim says this research, along with other studies at Penn, is evaluating how effective computer tools are in therapy, and whether patients readily accept them.

Anyone interested in participating in this study can call 215-573-8880 and ask for Lisa.