Legacy of Betrayal: A Grounded Theory of Becoming Demoralized From the Perspective of Women Who Have Been Depressed

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Seven previously depressed women were interviewed about their understanding of how they had become depressed. The grounded theory method was used to analyze the interview transcripts and develop a theory that reflected their understanding. The core theme was labeled Becoming Demoralized. The women had depressive episodes when they became demoralized by “Being Betrayed”: Being Abused, Being Disrespected, and Being Left. These betrayals often resulted in feelings of being “Left Out Of The World,” feeling Nobody Cares About Me, which also contributed to demoralization. The experience of being demoralized involved believing one is “Not Worthy Of Love,” “There Is Nothing I Can Do To Change Things,” and “Nothing Is Ever Going To Get Better.” Some women were demoralized in childhood, and then further demoralized by later, often similar, “Betrayals,” A few women did not become demoralized until they were “Betrayed” as adults. The self-perpetuating nature of demoralization can result in chronic or recurrent depression.

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