To explore how South Asian origin women in Toronto, Canada, understand and explain the causes of their depression.
Cross-sectional in-depth qualitative interviews.
Outpatient service in Toronto, Ontario.
Ten women with symptoms of depression aged between 22 and 65 years of age. Seven were from India, two from Sri Lanka and one from Pakistan. Four were Muslim, three Hindu and three Catholic. Two participants had university degrees, one a high school diploma and seven had completed less than a high school education. Eight were married, one was unmarried and one a widow.
Three main factors emerged from the participant narratives as the causes of depression: family and relationships, culture and migration and socioeconomic. The majority of the participants identified domestic abuse, marital problems and interpersonal problems in the family as the cause of their depression. Culture and migration and socioeconomic factors were considered contributory. None of our study participants reported spiritual, supernatural or religious factors as causes of depression.
A personal–social–cultural model emerged as the aetiological paradigm for depression. Given the perceived causation, psycho-social treatment methods may be more acceptable for South Asian origin women.
An exploration of the perceived causes of depression in women of South Asian origin in Toronto, Canada.
Depression in South Asian women in Toronto may be caused by social problems that could be the target for prevention and health promotion.
Given the perceived causation, psycho-social interventions may be more acceptable for South Asian origin women in Toronto.
Links between social and health services may be important in decreasing the burden of depression in South Asian origin women in Toronto.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This study was able to interview a diverse cross-section of South Asian origin women in a community setting.
The interviewer was also a South Asian women and this may have facilitated disclosure.
The study did not disaggregate the South Asian group into different religious groups or countries of origin.
This study only included participants who could speak English.