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Womens Health Issues. 2015 Mar-Apr;25(2):142-8. doi: 10.1016/j.whi.2014.11.007. Epub 2015 Jan 31.

"I just start crying for no reason": the experience of stress and depression in pregnant, urban, African-American adolescents and their perception of yoga as a management strategy.

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Department of Family and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing, Richmond, Virginia. Electronic address:
Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Obstetrics and Gynecology & Institute for Women's Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia.



Perinatal health disparities are of particular concern with pregnant, urban, African-American (AA) adolescents, who have high rates of stress and depression during pregnancy, higher rates of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes, and many barriers to effective treatment. The purpose of this study was to explore pregnant, urban, AA teenagers' experience of stress and depression and examine their perceptions of adjunctive nonpharmacologic management strategies, such as yoga.


This community-based, qualitative study used nontherapeutic focus groups to allow for exploration of attitudes, concerns, beliefs, and values regarding stress and depression in pregnancy and nonpharmacologic management approaches, such as mind-body therapies and other prenatal activities.


The sample consisted of pregnant, AA, low-income adolescents (n=17) who resided in a large urban area in the United States. The themes that arose in the focus group discussions were that 1) stress and depression symptoms are pervasive in daily life, 2) participants felt a generalized sense of isolation, 3) stress/depression management techniques should be group based, interactive, and focused on the specific needs of teenagers, and 4) yoga is an appealing stress management technique to this population.


Findings from this study suggest that pregnant, urban, adolescents are highly stressed; they interpret depression-like symptoms to be signs of stress; they desire group-based, interactive activities; and they are interested in yoga classes for stress/depression management and relationship building. It is imperative that health care providers and researchers focus on these needs, particularly when designing prevention and intervention strategies.

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