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A Qualitative Study of Maternal Depression in the Latina Community: Contributors and Barriers to Identification and Treatment

1 July 2019


Depression significantly and negatively impacts individuals, families, and communities. Yet, how it impacts individuals and communities varies across gender and culture. Latinas, one of the fastest growing populations in the US, experience higher rates of depression, but they are not adequately treated. Given the high birth rates among Latinas, along with the adverse developmental outcomes experienced by children with a depressed mother, understanding the higher rates of maternal depression and identifying barriers to treatment are imperative to improving care for Latinas. Two factors that may contribute to Latinas’ experience of depression are acculturation and mental health stigma. Specifically, these factors may keep Latinas from identifying “Western” or criteria specific symptoms or believing it is acceptable to acknowledge depression. Additionally, mental health stigma often leads to avoidance of treatment seeking due to associated ideals (e.g. medication as addictive, thinking one is “loca”) and fear of others finding out. While studies have looked at maternal depression among Latinas on a larger scale, few have examined maternal depression and barriers to treatment from a community perspective geared toward service providers who may be able to speak to the contextual factors not captured in large scale quantitative studies. Given the current social and political climate – including changing immigration policies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, hateful rhetoric, and increased racial tensions - it is imperative to understand the experience of maternal depression and related barriers to identification and treatment among Latina mothers. This study uniquely uses a qualitative design including interviews with key stakeholders in the community to capture perspectives on rates of depression, the role of acculturation status, and influential aspects of mental health stigma on the experience of maternal depression among Latinas in western Oregon.


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