A phenomenological study to explore individuals’ experience of depression

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O'Mahony, James
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University College Cork
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Numerous epidemiological findings suggest that we live in an era that can only be described as the “age of melancholy” in that more and more individuals are diagnosed with depression every year. The aim of this study was to gain a phenomenological understanding of how individuals who experienced depression understood and made sense of their experience of depression through a methodology of interpretative phenomenological analysis. In-depth semi-structured interviews explored the lived experience of depression for eight individuals and identified how social discourses contributed to their understanding. Following rigorous analysis of twelve interview transcripts, data was broken down into four recurrent superordinate themes which related directly to how individuals made sense of their experience of depression; The Descent; The Worlds Conversations and Me - Engagement with Social Discourses; Broken Self - Transforming the Self; Embracing myself and my Mind - Transformation of the Self. Further interrogative analysis identified how some social discourses communicated by healthcare professionals, the media and academia, contributed to individuals experiencing an additional layer of distress, namely meta-distress which in essence is distress about distress.
Depression , Phenomenology , IPA , Social discourses
O'Mahony, J. 2015. A phenomenological study to explore individuals’ experience of depression. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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