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Article

Mums Alone: Exploring the Role of Isolation and Loneliness in the Narratives of Women Diagnosed with Perinatal Depression

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Division of Psychiatry, Faculty of Brain Sciences, University College London, Maple House, 149 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7NF, UK
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Health Services and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, Kings College London, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK
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Population Health Sciences Institute, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Baddiley-Clark Building, Richardson Road, Newcastle NE2 4AX, UK
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Population Health Research Institute, St George’s, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London SW17 0RE, UK
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Population, Policy and Practice Research & Teaching Department, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH, UK
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Lived Experience Advisory Group, University College London, Maple House, 149 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 7NF, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Julie Cwikel
J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10(11), 2271; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10112271
Received: 10 March 2021 / Revised: 6 May 2021 / Accepted: 11 May 2021 / Published: 24 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Women’s Health and Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders)
In this study, we explore the role that isolation and loneliness play in the narratives of women diagnosed with perinatal depression. Isolation and loneliness are increasingly seen as risk factors for depression, including in the perinatal period, but little is known about whether, and in what ways, women themselves associate isolation or loneliness with perinatal distress. Based on the thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with fourteen mothers in England, we found that women often connected feelings of depression during and after pregnancy to feeling dislocated from their previous identities and relationships. Women felt lost, confined to their homes, and often unsupported by their partners and families. However, fears of being judged to be inadequate mothers made it difficult for women to make authentic connections with others or to express negative feelings, increasing isolation and depression. We drew on the intersectionality theory to illustrate how the intersect between motherhood and other aspects of women’s identities (being young, single, deprived and/or from an ethnic minority) could leave some women particularly isolated and marginalised. Our conclusions emphasise the need to challenge social constructions of the good/bad mother, advocate for social change to lessen pressures on mothers, and develop support that addresses women’s interpersonal contexts and social networks. View Full-Text
Keywords: perinatal; mental health; loneliness; social isolation; intersectionality; thematic analysis perinatal; mental health; loneliness; social isolation; intersectionality; thematic analysis
MDPI and ACS Style

Taylor, B.L.; Howard, L.M.; Jackson, K.; Johnson, S.; Mantovani, N.; Nath, S.; Sokolova, A.Y.; Sweeney, A. Mums Alone: Exploring the Role of Isolation and Loneliness in the Narratives of Women Diagnosed with Perinatal Depression. J. Clin. Med. 2021, 10, 2271. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10112271

AMA Style

Taylor BL, Howard LM, Jackson K, Johnson S, Mantovani N, Nath S, Sokolova AY, Sweeney A. Mums Alone: Exploring the Role of Isolation and Loneliness in the Narratives of Women Diagnosed with Perinatal Depression. Journal of Clinical Medicine. 2021; 10(11):2271. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10112271

Chicago/Turabian Style

Taylor, Billie Lever, Louise M. Howard, Katherine Jackson, Sonia Johnson, Nadia Mantovani, Selina Nath, Antoaneta Y. Sokolova, and Angela Sweeney. 2021. "Mums Alone: Exploring the Role of Isolation and Loneliness in the Narratives of Women Diagnosed with Perinatal Depression" Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, no. 11: 2271. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10112271

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