Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 120–129 | Cite as

Facilitators and Barriers to Disclosure of Postpartum Mood Disorder Symptoms to a Healthcare Provider

  • Betty-Shannon PrevattEmail author
  • Sarah L. Desmarais


Objectives This study explored perceived barriers and facilitators to disclosure of postpartum mood disorder (PPMD) symptoms to healthcare professionals among a community-based sample. Methods A sample of predominantly white, middle class, partnered, adult women from an urban area in the southeast United States (n = 211) within 3 years postpartum participated in an online survey including the Perceived Barriers to Treatment Scale, the Maternity Social Support Scale, the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scales-21, and items querying PPMD disclosure. Perceived barriers were operationalized as factors, from the patient’s perspective, that impede or reduce the likelihood of discussing her postpartum mood symptoms with a healthcare provider. Analyses examined: (1) characteristics associated with perceived barriers; (2) characteristics associated with perceived social support; and (3) characteristics, perceived barriers, and perceived social support as predictors of disclosure. Results Over half of the sample reported PPMD symptoms, but one in five did not disclose to a healthcare provider. Approximately half of women reported at least one barrier that made help-seeking “extremely difficult” or “impossible.” Over one-third indicated they had less than adequate social support. Social support and stress, but not barriers, were associated with disclosure in multivariable models. Conclusions for Practice Many women experiencing clinically-significant levels of distress did not disclose their symptoms of PPMD. Beyond universal screening, efforts to promote PPMD disclosure and help-seeking should target mothers’ social support networks.


Postpartum mood disorder Disclosure Maternal mental health Barriers Social support 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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