• Postpartum Anxiety/OCD – PPA/PPOCD.

Additional risk factors pertaining to PPA/PPOCD:

Some research suggests that some women who develop PPA/PPOCD have a heightened sensitivity to hormonal levels, in particular oxytocin, and this sensitivity may over- stimulate natural maternal behaviors, thus increasing maternal behaviors to over- protectiveness (Driscoll and Sichel, 1999).

Some research suggests the pre-existence of a certain thinking styles listed below may predispose a woman to postpartum anxiety/OCD (Kleiman & Wenzel, 2011).

  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Rigidity (an intolerance of grey areas & uncertainty)
  • An erroneous belief and pervasive feeling that worrying is a way of controlling or preventing events
  • An erroneous belief that thoughts will truly create reality
  • An underlying lack of confidence in one’s ability to solve problems
  • Intrusive thoughts – such as from post-traumatic stress
  • Poor coping skills

Symptoms: A pervasive anxiety that expresses itself as over-concern for the baby, over concern about germs, cleanliness, sleep arrangements, parenting skills and the normal attachment process. The mom takes on a hyper-vigilant stance. She may even bring baby to the hospital or doctor over and over again. She may develop checking behaviors such as checking to see if the blankets around the baby are folded properly, checking to see if the baby is breathing over and over again. She may be using (but not talking about) checking and counting rituals, which are designed for safety for the baby and soothing for the mom. This takes the form of obsessively counting the number of ceiling tiles in a room, counting the right angles in a room, or ordering the towels and clothing in a particular way in a closet. The mom be experiencing very scary thoughts about harming t he baby or herself. As in PPD, these must be taken seriously.


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Kathy Morelli

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