Date of Conferral





Public Health


Sandra Rasmussen


Postpartum depression affects some 10% to 20% of mothers. Its impact on the health and well-being of mothers and their infants is well documented. If not identified and addressed early, it can result in emotional burden, costly hospitalization and treatment, and, at worst, suicide and or infanticide. Empowerment theory was the conceptual framework for this hermeneutic phenomenological study. The purpose was to understand the lived experiences of the screening and treatment processes of 10 women from New York City experiencing postpartum depression and their perceived adequacy of the treatment received. In-depth interviews were used to investigate participants' lived experiences of the screening and treatment processes for their postpartum depression and to explore the extent to which they percieved that their emotional needs were met. From the responses to the interview questions, 6 themes emerged: crying and stress during and after pregnancy, inadequate assessment, feeling bad or unlike oneself, lack of understanding, needing to cope, and prayer was essential for recovery. Participants had tearfulness that began during pregnancy and intensified during the postpartum period, were ineffectively assessed, exhibited bizarre behaviors that could not be explained, had little understanding of what they were experiencing, and were sometimes misunderstood by others. Further, participants at times sought treatment on their own in order to cope. Some reported that prayer was central to the restoration of their mental health. Insights gained through this study can be utilized to foster positive social change by heightening awareness and assisting health care providers in planning appropriate screening and treatment to meet the individual needs of women with postpartum depression.