Date of Conferral
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.