Street Music or the Blues? The Lived Experience and Social Environment of Depression


Address correspondence to Susan M. Poslusny, DePaul University Department of Nursing, 802 West Belden, Chicago, IL 60614. E-mail:


Life's complexity is a haunting melody of continuously interacting variables … Professional practice in nursing seeks to promote symphonic interaction between man [sic] and environment … ( Rogers, 1970, pp. 41, 122). The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of clinical depression for women in the context of their social relations and environment. Twelve ethnically diverse female friend dyads were interviewed and completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Seventeen of these women had experienced a major depression in the past or were in treatment for clinical depression at the time of the study. This depression was characterized by dissonance experienced in childhood abuse and incest, uncontrollable moods despite self-medication, abusive or negligent therapy, failed social relationships in adulthood, and a lack of resources in the environment. In contrast, seven healthy women described their social environment as generally resonant and connected. Prevention of childhood abuse and racism, relief from economic hardships, early diagnosis, and safe, effective treatment are essential in helping women to survive clinical depression. Nurses in the community are in a unique position to affect this public health problem.