Experiences of immigrant new mothers with symptoms of depression

  • Amal Ahmed
  • Donna E. Stewart
  • Lilly Teng
  • Olive Wahoush
  • Anita J. Gagnon
Original Contribution

Abstract

Refugee, asylum seeking, non-refugee, and immigrant new mothers with depressive symptoms, were interviewed in a qualitative study to better understand their (a) experiences and attributions of depressive symptoms, (b) their experiences with health care providers and support services, (c) factors that facilitated or hindered help seeking, (d) factors that aided recovery or (e) were associated with women continuing to experience symptoms of depression. Ten immigrant new mothers who scored 10 or over on the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale shortly after giving birth, participated 12 to 18 months later in postpartum semi-structured interviews which were taped, transcribed and analyzed using a constant comparative approach. Many women attributed their depressive symptoms to social isolation, physical changes, feeling overwhelmed and financial worries. They had poor knowledge of community services. Barriers to care included stigma, embarrassment, language, fear of being labeled an unfit mother, or the attitude of some staff. Facilitators to recovery included social support from friends, partners and family, community support groups, “getting out of the house”, or personal psychological adjustment. Personal and systematic barriers exist in new immigrant mothers obtaining care for symptoms of depression. Suggestions for improvements are offered.

Keywords

Immigrant new mothers Depression symptoms Help-seeking Qualitative 

References

  1. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2001) Planning now for Canada’s future: introducing a multi-year planning process and the immigration plan for 2001 and 2002. Accessed at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/anrep01.html
  2. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (2002) Facts and Figures 2002: Immigration overview. Accessed at: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/pub/facts2002/immigration/immigration_7.html
  3. Cox JL, Holden JM, Sagovsky R (1987) Detection of postnatal depression: development of the 10-item Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Br J Psychiatry 150:782–786PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dennis CL (2004) Can we identify mothers at risk for postpartum depression in the immediate postpartum period using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale? J Affect Disord 78:163–169PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dennis CL, Chung-Lee L (2006) Postpartum depression help-seeking barriers and maternal treatment preferences: a qualitative review. Birth 33:323–331PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dennis CL, Janssen PA, Singer J (2004) Identifying women at risk for postpartum depression in the immediate postpartum period. Acta Psychiatr Scand 110:338–346PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Glaser B, Strauss A (1967) Discovery of grounded theory: strategies for qualitative research. Aldine, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Mauthner NS (1999) Feeling low and feeling really bad about feeling low: women’s experience of motherhood and postpartum depression. Can Psychol 40:143–161Google Scholar
  9. Nahas VL, Hillege S, Amasheh N (1999) Postpartum depression: the lived experience of Middle Eastern migrant women in Australia. J Nurse Midwifery 44:65–74PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Nicolson P (1999) Loss, happiness and postpartum depression: the ultimate paradox. Can J Psych 40:162–178Google Scholar
  11. O’Hara MW, Swain AM (1996) Rates and risk of postpartum depression—a meta analysis. Rev Psychiatry 8:37–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rojas G, Fritsch R, Solis J, Jadresic E, Castillo C, González M, Guajardo V, Lewis G, Peters TJ, Araya R (2007) Treatment of postnatal depression in low-income mothers in primary-care clinics in Santiago, Chile: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 370:1629–1637PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Small R, Yelland J, Lumley J, Brown S, Liamputtong P (2002) Immigrant women’s views about care during labor and birth: an Australian study of Vietnamese, Turkish, and Filipino women. Birth 29:266–277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Small R, Lumley J, Yelland J (2003) Cross-cultural experiences of maternal depression: associations and contributing factors for Vietnamese, Turkish and Filipino immigrant women in Victoria, Australia. Ethn Health 8:189–206PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Stewart DE, Gagnon A, Saucier JF, Wahoush O, Dougherty G (2008) Postpartum depression symptoms in newcomers. Can J Psych 53:121–124Google Scholar
  16. US Department of Homeland Security (2006). Accessed at: http://uscis.gov/graphics/shared/statistics/index.htm
  17. Whitley R, Kirmayer LJ, Groleau D (2006) ‘Understanding immigrants’ reluctance to use mental health services: a qualitative study from Montreal. Can J Psych 51:205–209Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amal Ahmed
    • 1
  • Donna E. Stewart
    • 1
  • Lilly Teng
    • 1
  • Olive Wahoush
    • 2
  • Anita J. Gagnon
    • 3
  1. 1.University Health Network Women’s Health ProgramTorontoCanada
  2. 2.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

Personalised recommendations