Women׳s help-seeking behaviours for depressive symptoms during the perinatal period: Socio-demographic and clinical correlates and perceived barriers to seeking professional help

Midwifery. 2015 Dec;31(12):1177-85. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Sep 21.


Objective: This study aims to characterize the help-seeking behaviours of women who were screened positive for perinatal depression, to investigate its sociodemographic and clinical correlates, and to characterize the perceived barriers that prevent women from seeking professional help.

Design: Cross-sectional internet survey.

Setting: Participants were recruited through advertisements published in pamphlets and posted on social media websites (e.g., Facebook) and websites and forums that focused on pregnancy and childbirth.

Participants: 656 women (currently pregnant or who had a baby during the last 12 months) completed the survey.

Measurements: Participants were assessed with the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale, and were questioned about sociodemographic and clinical data, help-seeking behaviours and perceived barriers to help-seeking.

Findings: Different pathways of help-seeking were found, with only 13.6% of women with a perinatal depression seeking help for their emotional problems. Married women, currently pregnant women, and women without history of psychological problems had a higher likelihood of not engaging in any type of help-seeking behaviour. The majority of women who had not sought professional assistance identified several barriers to help-seeking, particularly knowledge barriers.

Key conclusions: Strategies to increase women׳s help-seeking behaviours should be implemented, namely improving mental health literacy, introducing screening procedures for mental health problems in pre/postnatal health care settings, and offering women innovative opportunities (e.g., web-based tools) that allow them to overcome the practical barriers to help-seeking.

Keywords: Barriers to care; Help-seeking behaviours; Perinatal depression; Perinatal period; Survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Help-Seeking Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Perinatal Care
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / therapy*
  • Pregnant Women / psychology*