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J Nurs Scholarsh. 2002;34(3):227-33.

Postpartum depressed women's explanation of depression.

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University of Miami School of Nursing, 5801 Red Road, Coral Gables, FL 33143, USA.



To gain empirically derived knowledge of postpartum depression upon which to base detection and intervention strategies.


From 1997 through 2000, a sample of 30 nonhospitalized women, self-identified as postpartum depressed was recruited by network and "snowball sampling" to discuss their beliefs about postpartum depression. With reference to the Kleinman explanatory model of illness, their beliefs about postpartum depression and its treatment were contrasted to the biomedical model of postpartum depression.


Content analysis was done to classify data into cause, effect, severity, expectations, fears, and suggestions for treatment. Results were compared with DSM-IV diagnostic criteria.


Postpartum depressed mothers' explanatory model of depression differed from the DSM-IV criteria for depression in that mothers' depiction was generally milder in form and consisted of sleep deprivation instead of sleep disorders. Also, mothers were confused, overwhelmed, and guilty about thoughts of hurting their babies. The mothers did not exhibit suicidal ideation. Mothers described the illness as severe and long lasting, causing multiple problems including marital discord.


Mothers suggested more public education and support for new mothers to prevent and treat the disorder.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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