Date of Conferral







Ruth Crocker


Depression is a global health concern and among the top two causes of disability

and disease. African-Americans often seek help from the Black church, but

Pentecostal churches may fail to provide effective support due to doctrinal beliefs.

African-American women with depression struggle due to psychosocial implications

of the diagnosis. This research study used social constructionism and the

biopsychosocial model of health to explore the lived experiences of African-

American women suffering from self-reported depression while attending

Pentecostal churches in the Northeast United States. Fourteen women, ages

20 to 76, participated in this qualitative, phenomenological study. Data obtained

from the semistructured, face-to-face interviewswas analyzed with Moustakas'

modified Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method. Findings included the following main

themes: the Pentecostal church was ineffective in dealing with depression,

participants drew comfort from personal faith in God, participants emoted

through their behavior, most felt they had to wear a mask, traditional supports

were used to deal with depression, strength was expected of them, they were

blamed by the church for their depression, traumatic experiences were related

to depression, and psychological harm was suffered because of Pentecostal

church membership. Social change implications included the personal

liberation of research participants who shared their experiences. Other

implications include the potential for clergy to adopt more supportive practices

for their members based on these findings and for mental health professionals to

develop treatment options that are more culturally attuned and sensitive.