Understanding Postpartum OCD

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most secretive of the postpartum mood disorders. Patients who have these symptoms often feel a deep sense of shame for having their distressing intrusive and sometimes violent thoughts. Additionally, they often have these misguided beliefs:

a) I’m not a good mother.
b) I don’t really love my baby or why would I have these awful thoughts?
c) I’m crazy.
d) I made a mistake in having a baby.
e) I worry I could act on my thoughts. I must protect my baby by avoiding being alone with him/her.
f) If I confess these feelings to anyone, the Department of Children and Family Services, or a related organization, will take my baby away.
g) If my husband knew my thoughts, he’d leave or divorce me.

What they need to know is that OCD is an anxiety disorder and their fears and critical self-defeating cognitions unfortunately increase anxiety, thus feeding the cycle, and leading to more distressing thoughts and oftentimes resulting in depression.

In my therapy practice, I work with patients with OCD to decrease their anxiety and interrupt the OCD-fear cycle. These sessions are very effective in restoring the patient to better mental health.

Also, the May issue of the APA (American Psychological Association) Monitor published a brief report about a Northwestern University study in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

According to that research, about 70 percent of women who screened positive for obsessive-compulsive symptoms also screened positive for depression. The report said, “Postpartum mothers are nearly four times more likely than the general population to grapple with obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

In my book, Chapter 8, Finding Ways to Heal, I discuss many coping strategies and interventions that help decrease anxiety. I incorporate these methods in treating patients with postpartum OCD, and I’m pleased to report positive results for new moms with the condition.

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~ by ppdsus on September 11, 2013.

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