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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of postpartum depression : a grounded theory study Regev, Michal


The purpose of this study was to explore the experience of postpartum depression and to generate a substantive theory that would describe and explain this experience. Although the area of postpartum depression has been extensively researched in the past three decades the overwhelming majority of studies have employed quantitative research methods. These methods do not illuminate the experience from the women's point of view and they disregard the context within which the experience occurs. This study employed the Grounded Theory Method, a naturalistic-inductive method o f inquiry, that allowed for the participants' experience to be described and for a substantive theory to emerge, which is grounded in the data. Sixteen women (age range 27 to 42 years) were interviewed twice about their experience of depression following childbirth. The first interview focused on the women's experience of depression, while the second interview centred on the women's comments and suggestions regarding the researcher's thematic summaries of their interviews. A semi-structured interview guide was used during both interviews, which allowed for variations to emerge while a unified framework was maintained. The grounded theory analysis of the data led to the development of a substantive theory describing and explaining the social-psychological process of the experience of postpartum depression. The theoretical model that describes and explains the experience has six phases: (1) Becoming Lost, (2) Getting Trapped, (3) Deep in Depression, (4) Struggling to Break Out, (5) Breaking out, and (6) Staying Well. In addition, two recurrent themes were identified: (a) The Relationship with the Partner, and (b) A Redefined Self. The theoretical model illustrates the relationship among the different phases, as well as the properties that make the phases up. It also describes the types, circumstances and conditions under which the experience occurs. Most of the components of the theoretical model are supported by the literature on postpartum depression. However, the model adds to the literature in identifying specific parts of the process of postpartum depression such as the period leading to the onset of depression, the struggle to come out of the depression and women's agency in coming out of the depression and maintaining their wellness following recovery. As well, the study illuminated the changes in the relationship with the partner, and the process of redefining self through the experience of PPD. Finally, the implications for further research and practice that stem from the theoretical model that was developed are discussed.

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