The lived experience of postpartum depression: a phenomenological study

Nurs Res. May-Jun 1992;41(3):166-70.


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the essential structure of the lived experience of postpartum depression. Seven mothers who had suffered from postpartum depression were interviewed regarding their subjective experiences. Data were analyzed using Colaizzi's (1978) method of phenomenology. Forty-five significant statements were extracted and clustered into 11 themes. These results were integrated into the essential structure of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression was a living nightmare filled with uncontrollable anxiety attacks, consuming guilt, and obsessive thinking. Mothers contemplated not only harming themselves but also their infants. The mothers were enveloped in loneliness and the quality of their lives was further compromised by a lack of emotions and all previous interests. Fear that their lives would never return to normal was all-encompassing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological / methods
  • Puerperal Disorders / psychology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Social Support