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Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
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Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when a woman develops OCD during pregnancy or after birth. According to the Health Service Executive Perinatal OCD affects at least 2 in every 100 women.

Perinatal OCD has three main symptoms:

  1. Obsessions - frequent unpleasant thoughts, images, urges or doubts.
  2. Anxiety - distress caused by these unpleasant thoughts.
  3. Compulsions – behaviours (e.g., washing of hands) or mental acts (e.g., counting) that the person keeps repeating, to try to reduce their anxiety or to prevent bad things from happening.

Symptoms of Perinatal OCD:

  • Intense fear that the baby will be contaminated with germs, dirt, or poison
  • Excessive handwashing or sterilising, or not using public nappy changing facilities.
  • Thoughts or images of the baby coming to harm e.g., cot death.
  • Finding yourself repeatedly checking on the baby’s breathing during the night.
  • Worrying too much about doing things or not doing things in a particular way
  • Asking for reassurance again and again from others

Treatment For Perinatal OCD:

A woman with Perinatal OCD will often realise that her symptoms are unreasonable or excessive, although this can be harder to see if you are very anxious. Perinatal OCD is a treatable condition. Your GP, midwife and public health nurse can advise you and your partner/ relative about what kind of help to access. There are two main types of treatment options available for this condition:

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  2. Antidepressant Medication
perinatal-ocd-information-for-carers-print-version.pdf (hse.ie)
perinatal-ocd.pdf (hse.ie)