In the last decade, a growing body of research on resilience among women has emerged in the disciplines of social work, nursing, psychology and sociology. Myriad conceptualizations of resilience may be found within the research literature. One such conceptualization equates resilience with coping strategies leading to successful adaptation or positive outcomes under stressful or adverse circumstances. Among women, resilience has largely been studied in the context of physical and mental health issues, violence, abuse, poverty, immigration and geographic isolation. An extensive review of the literature has revealed that there is limited research on resilience among women who experience postpartum depression (PPD) in the underserviced communities of Northern Ontario. The current study addresses this knowledge gap by exploring coping strategies as a manifestation of resilience among women in the City of Greater Sudbury who are experiencing postpartum depression (PPD).
Utilizing purposive sampling techniques, women were recruited from the Perinatal Mental Health Program of Sudbury Regional Hospital and various community agencies (e.g., mental health, parenting and peer supports and health services). The women were included in the study if they met key criteria such as (i) being 18 years or above, (ii) having experienced depression within one year after the birth of a live infant or within the previous five years, and (iii) being able to recall and articulate conscious experiences of resilience in the English language. The women were invited to take part in individual semi-structured interviews which were tape recorded and transcribed verbatim. The interview guide encompassed demographic details, experiences of PPD and coping strategies.
This paper presents major themes delineating the coping strategies as a manifestation of resilience among twelve women experiencing PPD while living in an underserviced community within Northern Ontario. The findings are interpreted in the light of an eclectic theoretical framework consisting of Frankl’s meaning-making existential philosophy, Miller’s cultural-relational theory, and key principles of feminist standpoint theory. Coping strategies congruent with this theoretical framework include making meaning of one’s suffering (e.g., being philosophical about PPD, connecting with God, accepting the reality of motherhood), seeking support (e.g., sharing motherhood responsibilities, accessing services), nurturing oneself (e.g., participating in professional and recreational activities, developing positive outlook), and advocacy work (e.g., bringing awareness about PPD, providing support to other women). Other strategies such as connecting with and deriving strength from nature go beyond the assumptions of the theoretical framework. The findings have implications for the development of strengths-based interventions for women experiencing PPD.
|Keywords:||Resilience, Coping, Postpartum Depression|
PhD Candidate, School of Rural and Northern Health, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Professor, School of Social Work, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
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