September 25th, 2023

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Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms During the Postpartum Period: A Prospective Cohort
Authors:  Emily S. Miller, M.D., M.P.H., Christine Chu, B.A., Jacqueline Gollan, Ph.D., and Dana R. Gossett, M.D.
  OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms and to ascertain risk factors for this condition.

STUDY DESIGN: This is a prospective cohort of postpartum women carried out from June to September 2009. A total of 461 women were recruited after delivery at a tertiary care institution. Demographic, psychiatric, and obstetric information were collected from each participant. Patients were contacted at 2 weeks and at 6 months postpartum and completed screening tests for depression, anxiety, and OCD.

RESULTS: Eleven percent of women screened positive for OCD symptoms at 2 weeks postpartum. At 6 months postpartum almost half of those women had persistent symptoms, and an additional 5.4% had developed new OCD symptoms. Concomitant positive screens for anxiety and depression were predictive factors for the development of OCD symptoms.

CONCLUSION: Prior population-based studies estimate the prevalence of OCD to be approximately 23%. We found much higher rates among women in the postpartum period. The postpartum period is a high-risk time for the development of OCD symptoms. When such symptoms develop, they have a high likelihood of persisting for at least 6 months.
Keywords:  anxiety, mental health, obsessive- compulsive disorder, peripartum period, postpartum women
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