Pregnancy Related Disorders: Perinatal OCD, Postnatal Depression, Or Postpartum Psychosis
Motherhood and pregnancy are wonderful experiences. But for some, it may be very stressful, especially for new mothers who may have pre-existing or undiagnosed mental health conditions. A difficult labour or newborn crisis may further worsen a mother’s emotional states. Otium Mindhealth hopes to increase mental health awareness and encourages early intervention for new mothers.
Those with perinatal OCD (or obsessive-compulsive disorder) may experience repetitive thinking or recurrent images related to the well-being of the newborn child or baby-to-be. There is heightened worrying and suffocating anxiety to the point that some mothers may develop compulsive checking or cleaning in response to these unwanted thoughts.
On a different spectrum, postnatal depression (PND) is very different from having “baby blues” or postpartum blues. The baby blues are very mild mood swings occurring shortly after the arrival of the newborn and are short-lived, disappearing usually by the tenth day post-labour. However, if you start experiencing constant low mood, persistent fatigue (even after rest), and loss of interest in everything else including caring for your baby or yourselves, with negative thinking towards yourselves and your baby for weeks after childbirth, it is important to see a psychiatrist to have an assessment and to get treatment advice.
Postpartum psychosis, on the other hand, is a rare condition in which new mothers with prior mental health disorder may be more prone to experiencing it. Symptoms may appear by the second week after childbirth, and you may experience very labile mood swings alternating between the very-low and the very-high. You may be out-of-character yourselves, alternating between being very talkative or becoming suddenly withdrawn. You may hear voices or start having intense paranoid or suspicious thinking towards your loved ones or your baby. Getting psychiatric help is extremely important in this situation.