Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Adult Health Nursing

First Advisor

Dr. W. Richard Cowling III


This study was conducted with fourteen participants who lived in a rural Virginia community. The focus of the study was exploration of the nature of the experience of depression and of help-seeking for depression in one rural woman and in her community social network. The need for exploration of the community social network was influenced by the DeFacto Services Model of Rural Mental Health, which emphasized the influence of community factors in making decisions to seek mental health care. Findings of the study included the following themes, which related to the nature of depression: 1) linkage of experiential depression to diagnostic criteria; 2) overcoming depression using willpower; 3) connection of depression to abuse and violence, and 4) masking the inner world of depression. The following themes related to the nature of help-seeking emerged from the data: 1) family role in help-seeking; 2) insider/outsider status impact on help-seeking; 3) role of family and work functioning in help-seeking, and 4) role of informal and formal networks in help-seeking. Tentative conclusions were reached based on the findings that suggest depression and help-seeking may be experienced in distinctive ways by rural dwelling women in this particular community. Further research was suggested as a way of understanding more about how rural women seek help for depression within the context of their own community social networks.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008

Included in

Nursing Commons