Postnatal OCD: Common problem in new mothers

It is natural for new mothers to be extremely careful about handling their babies soon after their birth. Many new moms are overprotective about their babies, especially during the first few days of the birth, and are often involved in unwanted negative thoughts about their newly born babies. This overwhelming feeling about the baby’s well-being ends up in postpartum depression or psychosis that negatively affects the mother-infant bond, as well as the child’s development.

Although postpartum depression and psychosis is a common problem associated with motherhood, postnatal anxiety disorders, especially obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have typically grabbed the headlines. It is a known fact that when mothers are emotionally unwell during pregnancy or post-delivery, it can lead to problems, such as low birth weight and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although under recognized by patients and health care professionals, postnatal OCD can result in adverse consequences that need to be managed most effectively.

Identifying causes and symptoms of postnatal OCD

Postnatal OCD is a form of compulsive behavior in which a new mother is obsessed about the health of her baby and is also consumed by the fear of harming the child unknowingly. More often than not, the new mothers are highly cautious about the possible harm that could befall on their babies because of people, situations and even their own self. As a result, it is quite possible that she cuts herself off from the society and delves into intrusive and often morbid thoughts about the health and wellbeing of the baby. Fortunately, postnatal OCD is curable, provided one takes the treatment in time.

Listed below are some of the reasons that cause postnatal OCD:

  • Release of hormones by the brain post delivery to cement the ties between the mother and the child, and to induce lactation
  • Prior histories of anxiety or other mood disorders
  • Stressful premenstrual syndromes or difficult delivery
  • Stressful condition such as domestic violence, abuse and past trauma
  • Prior history of infertility or miscarriage.

Women, who have pre or postnatal OCD usually experience the following intrusive thoughts:

  • Making wrong decisions that could harm the child
  • Sexually abusing the baby
  • Stabbing the baby
  • Suffocating the baby during a bath
  • Intentionally or unintentionally dropping the baby
  • Chocking the baby during feeding
  • Misplacing baby in a public place
  • Taking inoculations that are harmful to the baby
  • Starving the baby

Listed below are some of the common compulsions seen in women with OCD:

  • Excessive washing and sterilizing of the baby’s clothing
  • Washing of other family members clothing for the fear of causing contamination
  • Being fearful of feeding the baby
  • Constantly checking on the baby
  • Hiding all sharp objects
  • Repeatedly asking family members for reassurance

Road to recovery

Anxiety is the most common mental illness affecting a lot of people across the globe. Therefore, finding a simple solution for the disorder would be a great discovery for a very wide section of the population. Although the discovery of new medications is important, some of the already available effective treatments can play a significant role in treating anxiety, depression, etc.

A combination of therapies and medication, such as serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can bring about positive changes during patients’ recovery. Sadly, most new mothers with anxiety disorders like OCD are in denial of their condition, and thus, do not seek timely medical help. Exposure-response therapy and cognitive behavioral therapies (CBT) can be helpful in mitigating the unhealthy ritualization associated with the disorder.

If you or your loved one is suffering from anxiety, get in touch with the Anxiety Treatment Centers of California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-972-9459 or chat online to find the best anxiety treatment centers in California to access state-of-the-art programs and holistic services.

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