Postpartum depression: a metasynthesis

Qual Health Res. 2002 Apr;12(4):453-72. doi: 10.1177/104973202129120016.


Postpartum depression has been described as a dangerous thief that robs mothers of the love and happiness they expected to feel toward their newborn babies. Even though the number of qualitative studies on postpartum depression is increasing, knowledge development will be impeded unless the rich understandings gleaned from these studies are synthesized. Using Noblit and Hare's 1988 approach, the author conducted a metasynthesis of 18 qualitative studies on postpartum depression. Four overarching themes emerged that reflected four perspectives involved in postpartum depression: (a) incongruity between expectations and the reality of motherhood, (b) spiraling downward, (c) pervasive loss, and (d) making gains. Implications for clinical practice and theory development are addressed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • United States