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Human Services


Scott L. Hershberger


Depression with peripartum onset, which was previously called maternal depression, or postpartum depression, is common among many pregnant women. The condition increases impairment in maintaining relationships, self-esteem, and parenting skills. The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to explore how mothers who have experienced peripartum onset (postpartum) depression perceive their social support and their ability to parent effectively. The conceptual framework was based on Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy theory. Convenience and snowball sampling were both used to obtain 6 research participants who were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone. Participants shared their experiences with depression, perceptions of social support, and how both influenced their parenting efficacy. Two cycles of coding were used: initial and focus coding. Key themes of this research study were mother’s age of onset with depression, symptoms, coping strategies, supports received, results of social supports, recommendations to other mothers, and effects of depression on parenting. The results were that mothers’ depression negatively affected parenting, which resulted in receiving social supports such as postpartum trainings, talk therapy, and psychotherapy (counseling). This study may help to close the gap and extend the literature by exploring the influence of peripartum onset (postpartum) depression on parenting. Implications for positive social change may include more direction in how human services professionals address mothers during their pregnancy or postpregnancy related to peripartum onset (postpartum) depression.

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