To discover how women from a nondominant cultural background (West Indian) experience and manage depression.
Explanatory using grounded theory.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 Black West-Indian Canadian women who experienced depression. Between 1994 and 1996, the first author engaged in participant observation.
The women used the basic social process they called "being strong" to manage or ameliorate depression. Being strong included "dwelling on it," "diverting myself," and "regaining my composure." For most of the women, the range of available life choices was limited to the three processes; however, a few engaged in "trying new approaches." These women were less limited in their range of cultural and behavioral boundaries than were the others, and began tentatively to explore other options for themselves.
Black West-Indian Canadian women in this study managed their depression in culturally defined ways by being strong and not showing vulnerability. Because being strong was also evident in a previous study of dominant-culture women as a prelude to depression, the process may be widespread in women prone to depression. The findings provide helpful information for intervening in an unfamiliar culture.