Social context, depression, and the transition to motherhood

Lee, Christina (1997) Social context, depression, and the transition to motherhood. British Journal of Health Psychology, 2 2: 93-108.

Author Lee, Christina
Title Social context, depression, and the transition to motherhood
Journal name British Journal of Health Psychology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1359-107X
Publication date 1997
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Volume 2
Issue 2
Start page 93
End page 108
Total pages 16
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher John Wiley & Sons
Language eng
Abstract Cultural assumptions about motherhood create an artificial dichotomy between the normal, happy, mother and the pathological experience of post-partum depression. However, the evidence suggests that it is more reasonable to see post-partum depression as one end of a continuum of normal adjustments to motherhood. While some postpartum psychiatric conditions do seem to be hormonally mediated, non-psychotic postpartum depression is nor qualitatively different from other forms of depression, and is best explained by inadequate social support, high workloads, and unrealistic expectations about motherhood. This paper reviews the evidence on post-partum depression and on the normal experiences of new mothers, showing that new motherhood is a major life-event which poses extensive adjustment problems for most women. Cultural expectations that family caring is naturally women's work, and that it is easy and stress free, mean that many mothers suffer a combination of work overload and guilt. A change in social expectations, greater involvement by fathers, and more flexible work practices to allow parents to care for their children would contribute greatly to the alleviation of distress in the post-partum and early motherhood years.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collection: School of Psychology Publications
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Created: Tue, 14 Dec 2010, 15:19:05 EST by Christina Lee on behalf of School of Psychology