Postpartum Onset OCD

Bringing a new life into the world is a momentous and joyous occasion, but it also brings with it a myriad of challenges and adjustments. For some new mothers, the postpartum period can trigger a specific type of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) known as postpartum onset OCD. Understanding and managing this condition is crucial for the well-being of both the mother and her baby.

According to a recent study published in 2021: the point prevalence gradually increased over the course of pregnancy and the early postpartum, attaining a peak of close to 9% at approximately 8 weeks postpartum, with a gradual decline thereafter. On the other hand, postpartum OCD has high comorbidity with MDD.

Recognizing the Symptoms:

It is essential to differentiate between normal postpartum concerns and OCD. While many new mothers worry about their baby’s safety and well-being, those with postpartum onset OCD experience intense, persistent, and distressing thoughts that they cannot easily dismiss. Symptoms may include:

  • Intrusive Thoughts: Repeated, unwanted thoughts about harming the baby or something bad happening to the baby.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: Actions taken to neutralize the anxiety caused by these thoughts, such as excessive washing, checking, or seeking reassurance.
  • Anxiety and Distress: High levels of anxiety and emotional distress related to the obsessions and compulsions.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding certain situations or activities to prevent triggering obsessive thoughts.

From a clinical standpoint, it is vital to have knowledge on how to differentiate Postpartum OCD from Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis

Let’s begin by answering this question first:

Understanding the difference between postpartum OCD, Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Psychosis is vital. Which of the following statement is WRONG?

Answer: All are correct statments

FOR ACADEMY MEMBERS:

WOMEN'S MENTAL HEALTH

POSTPARTUM ONSET
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER

Picture of PRESENTATION BY: DR. MARY KIMMEL

PRESENTATION BY: DR. MARY KIMMEL

Medical director of NC Maternal Mental Health MATTERS program &
Co-Director of UNC’s Perinatal Psychiatry Program

Dr. Mary Kimmel is the medical director of NC Maternal Mental Health MATTERS program & Co-Director of UNC’s Perinatal Psychiatry Program. She has discussed this clinically relevant topic in the following sections:

  • Case examples: (a) “Normal” mom worries, (b) Postpartum OCD, or (c) Postpartum psychosis.
  • Underlying Biology and Neuroanatomy involved in postpartum onset OCD
  • Postpartum mood symptoms & 5 symptoms dimensions of obsessions and compulsions in the postpartum period.
  • Differentiating (a) OCD and postpartum depression; (b) OCD and postpartum Psychosis.
  • Risk assessment of harm to the baby.
  • Postpartum OCD in fathers.
  • Treatment algorithm of (a) Postpartum OCD; (b) Postpartum Psychosis.

POSTPARTUM ONSET OCD

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