Situating Sadness

Women and Depression in Social Context

228 pages

2 illustrations

May, 2003

ISBN: 9780814798010



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Janet M. Stoppard is Professor of Psychology at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. She is the author of Understanding Depression: Feminist Social Constructionist Approaches.

All books by Janet M. Stoppard

Linda M. McMullen is Professor of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan.

All books by Linda M. McMullen

It is well known that depression occurs more often in women than in men. It is the most commonly encountered mental health problem among women and ranks overall as one of the most important women's health problems.

Researchers have studied depression a great deal, yet women's depression has rarely been the primary focus. The contexts of women's lives which might contribute to their depression are not often addressed by the mental health establishment, which tends to focus on biological factors. Situating Sadness sheds light on the influence of sociocultural factors, such as economic distress, child-bearing or child-care difficulties, or feelings of powerlessness which may play a significant role, and points to the importance of context for understanding women’s depression.

Situating Sadness draws on research in the United States and other parts of the world to look at depression through the eyes of women, exploring what being depressed is like in diverse social and cultural circumstances. It demonstrates that understanding depression requires close attention to the social context in which women become depressed.


  • “Why do women experience depression at twice the rate of men? This important collection brings the missing voices of women's own experience to the discussion, with rich and original results. Contributors—leading researchers as well as rising stars—provide sophisticated and nuanced studies of women working to make sense of and cope with their experiences of depression. An important analysis of gendered expectations in creating the context for depression. A needed and most welcome addition to fathoming the experience of depression.”

    —Stephanie A. Shields, author of Speaking from the Heart: Gender and the Social Meaning of Emotion

  • “This book brings together work from a number of researchers who have been in the vanguard of changing the ride. . . . presents a powerful and convincing case for a relational approach.”

    Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology