1st Edition

Women and Depression Recovery and Resistance

By Michelle N. Lafrance Copyright 2009
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    Women and Depression: Recovery and Resistance takes a welcome look at women’s experiences of living well after depression. Lafrance argues that the social construction of femininity is dangerous for women’s health, and ultimately, central to their experiences of depression. Beginning with a critical examination of the ways in which women’s depression is a product of the social, political, and interpersonal realities of their everyday lives, the analysis moves on to explore an often ignored aspect of women’s experience – how women manage to ‘recover’ and be well after depression.

    The book draws on extensive in-depth interviews with women who have been depressed, as well as on previous research and on analyses of representations of women’s health practices in the media. In this way Lafrance critically examines how women negotiate and actively resist hegemonic discourses of femininity in their struggles to recover from depression and be well. Threaded throughout the analysis is the exploration of a variety of subjects related to women’s distress and health, including:

    • negotiating identity
    • the medicalization of women’s misery
    • women’s narratives of resistance
    • the material and discursive context of women’s self-care

    In exploring the taken-for-granted aspects of women’s experiences, Lafrance sheds light on the powerful but often invisible constraints on women’s wellbeing, and the multiple and creative ways in which they resist these constraints in their everyday lives. These insights will be of interest to students and scholars of psychology, sociology, women’s studies, social work, counseling, and nursing.

    Studying Women’s Experiences of Recovery from Depression. Narratives of Depression. Recovery from Depression. Struggling to Self-care: The Material and Discursive Context of Women’s Health Practices. Conclusion: Implications for Usefulness.


    Michelle N. Lafrance is Associate Professor of Psychology at St Thomas University in Canada. Her research and teaching interests are in the area of women’s mental health.

    "Lafrance's technique of discourse analysis reveals interesting consistencies and trends in the women's description of their experiences. ... The Scholarly use of a wide range of research and writing to back up arguments throughout the book was convincing [and] Lafrance's broader sociological perspective raised interesting questions. Particularly, it means that her concluding recommendations are refreshingly different. Rather than the usual calls for expanding mental health services, she suggests, for example, radical improvements in childcare provision, which would clearly make an immense difference to the lives of many of her interviewees." - Elizabeth Frayn, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, UK, in the International Journal of Culture and Mental Health

    "I imagine it will ultimately be of more interest to students than practitioners, though anyone working with women would undoubtedly find it a useful and thought-provoking read. The strong focus on women’s own stories throughout means it may also appeal to sufferers themselves." - Anna Franca in Journal of Mental Health

    "This book is unique in its approach to the significance of women’s mental well-being in the society and how women need to give importance to their own mental well-being, amidst a multitude of roles and responsibilities they undertake in their families and in the community as well. Women and Depression: Recovery and Resistance takes a meticulous look at women’s experiences of living well after depression. Through an in-depth exploration of a variety of topics, including negotiating identity, the medicalization of women’s misery, women’s narratives of resistance and the material and discursive context of women’s self-care, Lafrance has brought to limelight the powerful but often invisible constraints on women’s wellbeing, and the varied and creative ways in which they resist these constraints in their everyday lives. Undoubtedly, this book will be a perceptive resource for students, scholars of sociology, women’s studies, social work, psychology and counselling." - Prathiba Nagabhushan in Sex Roles

    "[LaFrance’s] narrative style of writing is engaging and accessible while remaining grounded in a theoretical framework. ... Her agenda, to record and give voice to the lives of women, provides compelling and empowering access for others who may be seeking ways to navigate depression." - Shayda Kafai in Women’s Studies

    "This is an important book for those seeking a comprehensive, scholarly and readable exploration of the impact of social inequalities on women’s mental health." - Wendy Franks, clinical psychologist, in The Psychologist

    "Lafrance provides a welcome alternative to the biomedicalized understandings of depression that are increasingly dominant within the (mental) health field as well as wider culture. A pleasure to read." - Nicola Gavey, Associate Professor, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

    "A ground-breaking analysis of women’s recovery from depression showing how selfcare is central to women’s wellbeing while threatening their identities as ‘good’ women.  This book is essential reading for women struggling with depression and for mental health professionals helping women to overcome depression." -  Janet Stoppard, Professor of Psychology (retired), University of New Brunswick, Canada