Postpartum Mood Disorders

Postpartum Mood Disorders

Postpartum Panic Disorder and Postpartum OCD

Postpartum mood disorders go beyond postpartum depression and anxiety.

Some women have postpartum panic disorders or OCD. Often symptoms related to these mood disorders are misdiagnosed. Postpartum panic disorder can affect up to 10% of new mothers, while postpartum OCD affects around 3-5%.

Signs of postpartum panic disorder include:

  • anxiety symptoms

  • shortness of breath

  • heart palpitations

  • chest pains

  • nausea

  • sweating

  • feelings of intense dread

  • fear that you are dying

  • Fear of being out of control

Postpartum OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals. Some women experience intrusive images of holding a pillow over their baby’s head, but don’t act on it. While others can experience postpartum psychosis.

Examples of postpartum compulsion:

  • Repetitive, purposeful, intentional behaviors called rituals like washing and cleaning, avoiding dangerous objects, checking baby obsessively, straightening or arranging items, hoarding items

  • Some compulsive thoughts are related to harming or having harm done to your baby. Fearing your baby’s bottles will somehow become contaminated, thoughts of drowning your baby, putting your baby in the microwave, stabbing your baby, throwing your baby in the garbage or down the stairs.

Examples of postpartum obsession:

  • Recurrent or persistent thoughts or impulses that are experienced as a disturbance or inappropriate.

  • They are not thoughts just excessive worries about real-life problems, they feel as though someone else put them in your head.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms or have concern about your mood and thoughts know that you are not alone. it’s ok to seek help. We don’t know exactly what causes postpartum mood disorders, but we do know that lack of support and stress can be contributing factors.

If you or someone you know seems to be having a difficult time transitioning it can be really difficult to know how help.

Here are a few thoughts to take into consideration if you are pregnant or postpartum:

  • know your risk factors

  • recognize the importance of the changes a baby will bring to your life

  • Evaluate your expectations

  • Establish a support system or emergency hot lines to call

  • If you can’t control your mood, try taking control of your behavior. Example: unclench your jaw, take 8 deep breaths in 1 minute, call for help, put your baby down and sit in a quiet room.

Complementary treatment options:

Researchers have reported some evidence on the effects of aromatherapy on the reduction of depression and stress among research communities of mothers during delivery after delivery. The findings suggest that like medications, the aromas could have the similar effects on the nervous system. Aromatherapy with lavender essential oil and rose water in this study reduced the depression in women at risk. In this study, aromatherapy was performed on women at risk of depression and this important point has not been considered in previous studies. According to the results of the present study, it seems using aromatherapy has a significant effect on reducing depression after delivery.

For additional resources:

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