Title

Infanticide secrets: qualitative study on postpartum depression

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Barr, JA & Beck, CT 2008, 'Infanticide secrets: qualitative study on postpartum depression', Canadian Family Physician, vol. 54, no. 12, e5.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

OBJECTIVE  To explore thoughts of infanticide that did not lead to the act among mothers with postpartum  depression.

DESIGN  A phenomenologic hermeneutic study in which women were invited to share their experiences  of having thoughts of infanticide.

SETTING  Community setting in a large metropolitan city, Brisbane, Australia.

PARTICIPANTS  Fifteen women who had been diagnosed as clinically depressed with postpartum onset  whose babies were 12 months of age or younger.

METHOD  Audiotaped, in-depth interviews were transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis commenced  immediately after the first interview, and data collection continued until saturation was achieved. A  questioning approach that reflected hermeneutics was facilitated by use of journals by the researchers.

MAIN FINDINGS  Six themes emerged from the data: imagined acts of infanticide, the experience of horror,  distorted sense of responsibility, consuming negativity, keeping secrets, and managing the crisis.

CONCLUSION  Women who experienced nonpsychotic depression preferred not to disclose their thoughts  of infanticide to health professionals, including trusted general practitioners or psychiatrists. These  women were more likely to mention their suicidal thoughts than their infanticidal thoughts in order to  obtain health care. General practitioners and other health professionals should directly ask about whether  a woman has been experiencing thoughts of harming herself or her baby, regardless of the reason why  she has presented.