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Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, The Less Talked About Perinatal Experience

One of the least talked about perinatal experiences is postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. Often talked about is postpartum depression in which a mother sinks into a low depression due to severe hormonal imbalance. Without feeling any love or attachment to her child, she finds it hard to care about wanting to be a mother. Hearing her child scream, she cannot be motivated to do anything to take care of it. It is important to understand that women who experience postpartum depression and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorders aren’t bad mothers, bad people, or crazy. They are suffering from a experience of mental illness, which many are aware of. On top of the symptoms, they are often crippled with shame and remorse at the way they feel, because they have an idea of how they should feel as new mothers, and the thoughts that they are having. Both postpartum depression and postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder are characterized by intrusive thoughts which often include vivid, graphic details of harming their child or harm coming to their child. The tape plays through to the reactions of others and what will happen as a result of the harm done.

For these mothers, their intrusive thoughts are realistic. Without any knowledge on postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder, they might feel overwhelming because they are abnormal. What differentiates postpartum depression from postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder is that new mothers with postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder aren’t depressed. They don’t experience the drop in energy, lethargy, pessimism, and detachment from their child. Instead, they experience regular, intrusive thoughts which scare them. Worse, they feel completely out of control of being able to manage them. Still, the realistic and horrifying thoughts continue to play out in their minds, despite not being depressed. The thoughts cause these new mothers to feel as though they are living with an immense amount of guilt and regret for the realistic images and thoughts which aren’t actually real. Most important to understand is that having these thoughts does not lead to acting on them. Violent and uncomfortable thoughts are characteristic of obsessive compulsive disorder, but acting on them is not.

Women who are experiencing obsessive, intrusive thoughts about their child and their life as a new mother are struggling with mental illness caused by their hormones being imbalanced. Treatment and therapy can help create tools for coping with these thoughts in healthy ways.


If you are struggling with depression or obsessive compulsive disorder, treatment is available to help you regain balance. Harmony Place is a dual diagnosis treatment center offering luxury residential care to men and women seeking recovery. For a private consultation and more information on our full spectrum of care options, call us today: 1-888-789-4330