Mothers' experiences of recovery from postnatal mental illness: a systematic review of the qualitative literature and metasynthesis

Charlene Plunkett, Sarah Peters, Anja Wittkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Mothers are most vulnerable to mental illness during the perinatal period. The aim of this metasynthesis was to understand mothers’ experiences of recovery from postnatal mental illness. Four databases were systematically searched using key words and index terms to identify the qualitative literature exploring mothers’ experiences of recovery from postnatal mental illness. Fourteenstudies met the inclusion criteria and were critically appraised in accordance with the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme Criteria and guidelines developed by Walsh and Downe.The review used the metasynthesis approach informed by Noblit and Hare. Five core themes emerged from the synthesis to describe a four stage model of recovery: stage 1: recognising the problem involves crisis and relational distress; stage 2: seeking help consists of subthemes of accepting help and help to access help. Stage 3: achieving recovery includes subthemes of sharing with others like me, coping strategies and noticing recovery. Finally, Stage 4: Maintaining recovery includes; incorporating coping strategies into daily life; acquiring a different model of motherhood and processing the experience. The role of the family was interwoven through each stage of recovery. Mothers valued support from their family throughout recovery. Future research synthesising the support needs of families would inform systemic interventions to facilitate recovery. These findings have implications for services and professionals who are often the first point of contact with this group of mothers and their families. The findings and limitations are discussed in detail with reference to implications for research and professionals.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJSM Anxiety and Depression
Volume1
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • Mothers
  • Recovery
  • Postpartum depression
  • Postpartum psychosis
  • Qualitative literature

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