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Soc Sci Med. 2005 Jul;61(1):15-25.

Dealing with it: Black Caribbean women's response to adversity and psychological distress associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and early motherhood.

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School of Healthcare Professions, Faculty of Health and Social Care, University of Salford, Salford M6 6PU, UK.


This paper focuses on Black Caribbean women's ideas about perinatal depression and the ways in which these are linked to coping with personal adversity. An epidemiological survey found that despite higher levels of social risk among Black Caribbean women living in the UK, they were no more likely than White British women to record above-threshold depression scores postnatally and were significantly less likely to have done so during pregnancy. In-depth interviews were undertaken to illuminate the models, experiences, and meaning of perinatal depression held by Black Caribbean women. Women's narratives suggested that they rejected 'postnatal depression' as a central construct for understanding responses to psychological distress associated childbirth and early motherhood. Rejection of depression as illness was associated with imperatives to normalise distress and a self-concept which stressed the importance of being 'Strong-Black-Women' for maintaining psychological well-being. This identity served to reinforce notions of resilience, empowerment, and coping strategies characterised by the need to problem-solve practically, assertively, and materially. The study questions the utility of attaching psychiatric labels to the emotional and psychological distress experienced by Black Caribbean women around the perinatal period.

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