Experiences of Mothers Who Disclose Symptoms of Postnatal Depression
Abraham-Smith, Kelly Michelle
Whilst previous research has explored women’s experiences of disclosing symptoms of postnatal depression (PND) to health professionals, very little qualitative research exists on women’s experiences of disclosing to people in their personal support networks. Research has shown that some mothers with PND find it difficult to disclose to professionals and prefer to seek support from partners, family and friends. Aim: The current study aimed to explore the overall process mothers go through to disclose PND - to people with whom they have personal relationships, as well as health professionals. Method: Five women who experienced and disclosed PND participated in semi-structured interviews. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results: The analysis produced four super-ordinate themes: ‘Trying to cope whilst making sense of experiences’, ‘Deciding whether to disclose: Facilitative and inhibiting factors’, ‘The two-way interpersonal nature of disclosure’, ‘Disclosure as part of a transformative process’. Conclusions: This study highlighted the influence of internalised expectations of motherhood and stigma surrounding PND on how mothers try to cope with their initial symptoms and on their decisions about whether or not to disclose. The participants described a cautious approach to disclosure in which they had to deal with setbacks. Consequences of disclosing were considered alongside how the disclosure process was influenced by recovery from PND.