What Causes Postpartum Depression and How to Cope with It: A Phenomenological Study of Mothers in China. Academic Article uri icon


  • Culturally specific beliefs about mental illnesses influence people's experience of mental illnesses and their likelihood of seeking help. This study explores how mothers in China understand the causes of postpartum depression (PPD) and their preferred coping strategies through semi-structured interviews. It finds that these mothers often take a situational approach to PPD, attributing it to external factors that could be changed (e.g., lack of support from in-laws) or to internal factors that will disappear over time (e.g., hormonal fluctuation). As a result, these mothers often choose to cope with their PPD symptoms through self-help strategies such as talking to someone, enlisting help, and positive thinking. Seeking professional help is not a preferred coping strategy. Furthermore, participants often make different attributions about the PPD experiences of themselves and the experiences of others. In explaining other women's PPD symptoms, they are more likely to evoke the myths about gender and motherhood in the Chinese culture and blame PPD on these mothers' personality flaws, husbands' affairs, and financial hardships. Practically, our findings provide baseline data for the promotion of professional mental health care among mothers experiencing PPD in China.

published proceedings

  • Health Commun

author list (cited authors)

  • Tang, L. u., Zhang, X., & Zhu, R.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Tang, Lu||Zhang, Xueying||Zhu, Ruijuan

publication date

  • November 2021