The experiences of prenatal depression among Taiwanese women


C.-H. Chen: e-mail:


Title. The experiences of prenatal depression among Taiwanese women.

Aim.  This paper is a report of a study to describe Taiwanese women’s experiences of prenatal depression.

Background.  Despite its long-term adverse effects for both mother and child, prenatal depression has received less scholarly attention than postpartum depression. Studies to date have proposed structured measures for quantifying prenatal depression, but the characteristics of this phenomenon have not been qualitatively analysed.

Method.  A convenience sample of 12 Taiwanese pregnant women scoring above 15 on the Edinburgh Perinatal Depression Scale participated in in-depth interviews during 2005. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using content analysis.

Findings.  Unbalanced commitment to motherhood was the primary theme of the life experiences of prenatal depression in these Taiwanese women, which summarized their feelings of engagement and ambivalence towards their experiences of transition to motherhood. Five recurring sub-themes were identified: multiple conflicting roles, lack of social support, dissatisfaction with body image, future uncertainty and emotional instability.

Conclusion.  Prenatal depression is a painful growth experience represented by silent and unbalanced commitment during the maternal role transition. Our findings may help healthcare professionals to understand the vulnerable experiences of pregnant women and devise preventive intervention strategies, such as prenatal education for both parents and comprehensive screening for prenatal depression in at-risk pregnant women, so that they are better prepared for the transition to motherhood.