"I Gotta Carry The Burden By Myself"

Experiences of Peripartum Depression among Low-Income Mothers of Color


  • Robert H. Keefe University at BuffaloState University of New York http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2008-7193
  • Rebecca Rouland Nazareth College Rochester, NY 14618 585-389-2750
  • Sandra D. Lane Syracuse University
  • Audrey Howard Coordinated Care Services, Inc.
  • Carol Brownstein-Evans Nazareth College
  • Xiaozhong Wen University at Buffalo, SUNY
  • Lorinda Parks Anthony Jordan Health Center




poverty, mothers of color, maternal depression, postpartum depression


Despite prevalence estimates indicating that upwards to 38% of new mothers of color will experience perinatal depression, little research has been published that investigates how they cope with the stressors in their daily lives. This article presents the findings of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 30 low-income new mothers of color about parenting their children despite the burden of ongoing depression. Narrative analyses revealed three themes: feeling alone, isolated, and overwhelmed; feeling misunderstood, betrayed, and judged by others; and having to carry their burden alone. Despite having depression, the mothers spoke of ways they were able to persevere even with the enormous burden of raising their children while living in high-crime, low-income neighborhoods. Recommendations include the need for social workers to recognize low-income mothers’ inner strengths; recognize why mothers may not trust professionals to be of help; and take the time to build strong therapeutic relationships with mothers who perceive their families, friends, partners, and often social service professionals as being of little help.

Author Biographies

Robert H. Keefe, University at BuffaloState University of New York

Associate Professor School of Social Work

Rebecca Rouland, Nazareth College Rochester, NY 14618 585-389-2750

Department of Social Work Assistant Professor

Sandra D. Lane, Syracuse University

Public Health

Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor

Audrey Howard, Coordinated Care Services, Inc.

School Support Specialist

Carol Brownstein-Evans, Nazareth College

Department of Social Work


Xiaozhong Wen, University at Buffalo, SUNY

Division of Behavioral Medicine

Department of Pediatrics

Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Associate Professor


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