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