Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | Information for Parents

What is Perinatal OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is a psychiatric illness which presents commonly with two problems: obsessions and compulsions. When these obsessions and compulsions present during pregnancy or shortly after a woman has had a baby, this is known as Perinatal OCD. 

Intrusive thoughts are unwelcome ideas or images or urges. They can make you feel uncomfortable but typically disappear before you even recognize it was there. For some people, intrusive thoughts get stuck. They can happen over and over again, causing distress and worry. 

Common obsessions and compulsions

Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges. These thoughts are more than annoying; they are distressing. Compulsions are behaviors that are done to make the obsessions disappear or to lower anxiety. Among the most common obsessions and compulsions are those that deal with harm and safety.  

Do my thoughts mean I’m ‘crazy’?

Postpartum OCD is much more common than Postpartum Psychosis. Despite that, many with OCD still worry that their symptoms mean they have lost their grasp on reality. Here is a table to help you figure out what may be wrong.

Perinatal OCDPostpartum Psychosis
What kind of thoughts are you having?You find the thoughts disturbing or disgusting. You know the thoughts are inappropriate and that you would not act on them.The thoughts are acceptable to you and your current belief system. The thoughts do not feel strange to you.
What are the associated behaviors?Compulsions: Checking, cleaning, arranging, counting, avoidance, and seeking reassurance from trusted loved ones are common.No compulsive behavior but you may follow through with associated actions. Decreased need for sleep.
What other symptoms may I experience?Anxiety, insomnia, and irritability are common. You may be overly concerned with infant’s welfare. Good insight into situation. Help seeking.Hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thoughts, and behaviors. Poor grasp on reality. Poor insight into situation. Help rejecting.
Who is likely to develop this syndrome?You are currently depressed or have been depressed before. You have a personal or family history of OCD or anxiety.Most often occurs among women with history of bipolar disorder.
TreatmentCognitive therapy, antidepressants.Hospitalization, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.

Treatment Options

What if I’m afraid to take medication?

People with OCD are commonly hesitant to take medication. Try these suggestions: