Obsessional Thoughts in Postpartum Females and Their Partners: Content, Severity, and Relationship with Depression
Only a few studies have examined the development or exacerbation of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) during pregnancy and the postpartum. Although the available literature suggests that OCD symptoms, particularly obsessional problems, develop at higher than expected rates among postpartum females, the overall prevalence of such symptoms in the postpartum remains unknown. Previous findings also suggest that intrusive distressing thoughts related to situational stressors are common in the general population. Therefore, the present study was designed to assess the presence and phenomenology of postpartum obsessive-like intrusive thoughts, images, and impulses in a large sample of parents with very young infants. Surveys were mailed to 300 childbearing women and their partners. Results were obtained from approximately one fifth of the sample; and 65% of respondents indicated the presence of obsessional intrusive thoughts. Intrusions were similar to “normal obsessions” as reported in previous research. Results are discussed in terms of the content of intrusive thoughts, their relationship to depression, and implications for etiological models of OCD and perinatal education.
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