Date of Conferral
Amy E. Sickel
Postpartum Depression (PPD) affects 15% of women after childbirth. Its etiology includes psychoneuroimmunologic factors with long-lasting postpartum stressors that lead to allostatic overload. Using mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for PPD has not yet been studied. Addressing this literature gap, the potential benefits of including an 8-week MBSR component based on Beck's theory of PPD at support groups were examined in this phenomenological study based on a sample of 10 women and 2 group facilitators. Purposes of the study included describing the experience of PPD and the MBSR program, identifying the stage of behavioral change of the participants, and describing the population of women attending the PPD support groups. These assessments were carried out using coding and constant comparison, guided by the tenets of the transtheoretical model. Data triangulation safeguarded study validity and rigor. Results pointed to the value of utilizing the MBSR program in PPD support groups. Data analysis concluded in the identification of 9 stages and 5 themes of the PPD experience of which 2 constructs, unexpected experience and feeling dismissed, emerged as original contributions of the study. Positive impact on social change was evidenced at the individual level by women's report of high satisfaction with the support groups and the MBSR program; improved problem-solving and coping with anxiety, panic, and intrusive thoughts; and by positive behavioral change at Week 8. The updated knowledge about these women's experiences, along with the availability of a new tool for professionals to treat PPD, contribute to positive social change at a societal level by improving mothers' health and children's development.