Obsessive Compulsive Symptoms Are Common Among First-Time Moms, Says New Study
We always knew that dealing with a newborn can cause a normally sane person to go just a little bit crazy, but new evidence suggests that it might actually trigger a mental disorder.
The journal Scientific American published an article recently that suggests that a large number of first-time moms can develop obsessive compulsive disorder in the weeks immediately following giving birth.
Northwestern University OB-GYN Emily Miller conducted the study by tracking 461 women after they had a baby. The study followed only biological mothers of infants, not those who adopted. Of these first-time moms, a large number — 11% — said they had intrusive thoughts and exhibited repetitive behaviors within two weeks after their baby’s delivery. This is a distinct increase over the 2 to 3% OCD rate in the general population. On a disturbing note, an additional 5.4% of first-time moms developed more symptoms within the next six months.
Life with a newborn can be fraught with anxiety, especially if you’re experiencing it for the first time, but Dr. Miller says, “It's good to check that your baby is strapped into the car seat. But these women aren't just doing it once. They're doing it over and over, and it's interfering with their lives.”
This study didn’t mention whether the symptoms of OCD were affected by hormonal changes, like post-partum depression, but 75% of the women who developed OCD symptoms were suffering from PPD.
Dr. Miller says, “If OCD symptoms are mild and resolve by six weeks' postpartum, they may be normal. But if they interfere with a patient's daily functioning and persist, she should talk to her doctor.”