Why women do not seek professional help for anxiety and depression symptoms during pregnancy or throughout the postpartum period? Barriers and facilitators of the help-seeking process

Sheila Silva, Maria Cristina Canavarro, Ana Fonseca


Goals: This study examined Portuguese women’s help-seeking intentions to address their emotional problems during pregnancy and
the first 12 months after childbirth, and the relative influence of main attitudinal and knowledge barriers and facilitators (prior experience
and encouragement from the partner).
Methods: Pregnant women or women within the first 12 months postpartum answered to a cross-sectional online survey that included
self-reported questionnaires to assess depressive and anxiety symptoms, depression literacy, attitudes towards help-seeking and intentions
to seek professional help.
Results: Women’s (N = 243) have a greater intention to resort to informal sources of help than to formal sources of help. Women with
clinically relevant psychopathological symptoms reported less positive attitudes towards help-seeking and a poorer perception of their
partner’s support in seeking professional help. Both stigma and the perceived encouragement from the partner to seek professional
help were strong predictors of formal help-seeking intentions.
Discussion: These results elucidate the importance of including the partner in the women´s help-seeking process and recovery, as well
as the important role of the media and health professionals in reducing the stigma about perinatal depression.


Perinatal Depression; Stigma; Help-seeking intentions; Literacy.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.33525/pprj.v1i1.17


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