Although postpartum depression is one of the most common emotional problems new mothers face, psychosis, anxiety and OCD are also found to occur, though this is much rarer. Go through this article to understand a bit more about them so that you can help yourself or someone you know from sinking deeper into these emotional issues without help.
Image Source: akhbar-kosmo.blogspot.com
Postpartum Psychosis is a rare illness, compared to the rates of postpartum depression or anxiety. It occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1% of births. The onset is usually sudden, most often within the first 2 weeks postpartum.
Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include:
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
A history of bipolar disorder, or any illness on the psychotic spectrum, even if in a family member, can contribute significantly. The birthing process puts hormones into overdrive and this can sometimes alter neurochemistry of the brain, leading to disturbance.
Approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety. Sometimes they experience anxiety alone, and sometimes they experience it in addition to depression.
The symptoms of anxiety during pregnancy or postpartum might include:
- Constant worry
- Feeling that something bad is going to happen
- Racing thoughts
- Disturbances of sleep and appetite
- Inability to sit still
- Physical symptoms like dizziness, hot flashes, and nausea
Risk factors for perinatal anxiety and panic include a personal or family history of anxiety, previous perinatal depression or anxiety, or thyroid imbalance. Sometimes, postpartum panic disorder, which is characterized by panic attacks can also occur.
On the spectrum between psychosis and anxiety lies OCD. OCD is a problematic issue because it can make the mother undertake dangerous cleaning habits with the infant, that may be very harmful for it.
Postpartum Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed of the perinatal disorders. It is estimated that as many as 3-5% of new mothers and some new fathers will experience these symptoms. The repetitive, intrusive images and thoughts are very frightening and can feel like they come “out of the blue.”
Symptoms of perinatal OCD can include:
- Obsessions, also called intrusive thoughts, which are persistent, repetitive thoughts or mental images related to the baby. These thoughts are very upsetting and not something the woman has ever experienced before.
- Compulsions, where the mom may do certain things over and over again to reduce her fears and obsessions.
- A sense of horror about the obsessions
- Fear of being left alone with the infant
- Hypervigilance in protecting the infant
- Moms with postpartum OCD know that their thoughts are bizarre and are very unlikely to ever act on them.
Having a previous diagnosis of anxiety or family history of it can be a risk factor for OCD.
Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.