|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. === Education, Faculty of === Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education (ECPS), Department of === Graduate