"Struggling with life": narratives from women with signs of postpartum depression

Scand J Public Health. 2005;33(4):261-7. doi: 10.1080/14034940510005725.


Aim: The aim of this study was to explore and describe how Swedish women with signs of postpartum depression two months postpartum experience the first months with their child.

Method: A grounded theory approach was chosen. Twenty-two women who showed signs of depression, i.e. scored 10 or more on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), were interviewed at an average of 80 days after the delivery.

Results: The new mothers were struggling with life related to the self, the child, and the partner. They expressed feelings of loss of who they are, felt overwhelmed by the responsibility for the child, and were struggling with feelings of abandonment, worries, and breastfeeding problems. They often felt like "bad mothers" but they never blamed the child. Most mothers were reluctant to speak about their feelings and they assigned their depressed mood to personal weakness rather than illness. In relationship to the partner the mothers were struggling to keep their equality in the new situation and to get him involved in childcare.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that depressed feelings postpartum may be explained in terms of losses and changes. However, postpartum depressive symptoms remain hidden and it is important to understand the complexity of postpartum depressive mood, described here as struggling with life related to three different dimensions: the self, the child, and the partner.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Identity Crisis
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Narration
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parity