Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychologists develop successful prevention program for postpartum OCD

Date:
August 22, 2011
Source:
University of Miami
Summary:
The birth of a baby can elicit many emotions, from joy and excitement to fear and uncertainty. But it can also trigger unexpected difficulties with anxiety, in particular with postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Psychologists have developed an effective program for the prevention of postpartum obsessive compulsive symptoms.

The birth of a baby can elicit many emotions, from joy and excitement to fear and uncertainty. But it can also trigger unexpected difficulties with anxiety, in particular with postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Psychologist Kiara Timpano from the University of Miami (UM) and her collaborators developed an effective program for the prevention of postpartum obsessive compulsive symptoms.

The findings are reported online ahead of print by the Journal of Psychiatric Research.

"Postpartum depression has received much attention, but anxiety related issues, especially obsessive compulsive symptoms, can also be devastating to mothers and their families," says Timpano, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at UM College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of the study. "Many women experiencing these difficulties are not getting the services they need because they don't even know that what they are experiencing has a label and can be helped."

Most new mothers have some thoughts of concern about their babies. But according to the study, some mothers experience a more severe form of anxiety known as postpartum OCD. The condition includes intrusive thoughts about bad things happening to the baby. In order to control these unpleasant thoughts, the mothers develop rituals or other behaviors in response, like checking the baby excessively or washing a baby bottle many more times than is necessary.

"The problem with OCD is that it is like a radio that's turned up too high," Timpano says. "Part of our work is trying to figure out how it got turned up so high and how we can help individuals turn it back down. For example, while it's okay to wash the baby bottle once, it is problematic if a mother ends up washing it for hours at a time."

The new study, titled "Efficacy of a prevention program for postpartum obsessive-compulsive symptoms." The investigation was conducted in collaboration with Jonathan S. Abramowitz, professor of psychology, and Brittain L. Mahaffey, doctoral student in psychology, both in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Norman B. Schmidt, psychology professor and director of the Anxiety and Behavioral Health Clinic, and Melissa A. Mitchell, doctoral student in psychology, both at Florida State University.

"We wanted to provide mothers with the necessary tools, which would hopefully keep them from going on to develop substantial symptoms that would interfere in their lives," Timpano says.

To develop and test the efficacy of an intervention that would not only treat mothers once their difficulties emerged, but could also prevent symptoms from developing, the team designed a prevention program based on cognitive behavioral therapy principle -- a treatment technique that has been found to be highly effective for anxiety disorders. The program was incorporated it into a traditional childbirth educational class.

Participants were a group of 71 expecting mothers at risk for developing postpartum obsessive compulsive symptoms. Half of the group was in a class that included the prevention program, the other half was in a regular childbirth education class (control group). The mothers were followed for six months after the birth of their babies. The program included information on the warning signs of anxiety and OCD, as well as specific techniques for how to deal with the symptoms.

The prevention program was successful in reducing both the incidence of obsessive compulsive symptoms and how distressing they were. Compared to the control group, the mothers in the prevention program experienced less anxiety after the babies were born and they maintained this effect for at least six months postpartum. The team also found that the intervention reduced those thinking styles that put a mom at risk to begin with.

Moving forward, the researchers would like to build on the program they created and make the treatment even more feasible and effective. "Further down the road, you can imagine some sort of scenario where mothers would get screened for postpartum anxiety, as is frequently done now for postpartum depression," said Timpano.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kiara R. Timpano, Jonathan S. Abramowitz, Brittain L. Mahaffey, Melissa A. Mitchell, Norman B. Schmidt. Efficacy of a prevention program for postpartum obsessive–compulsive symptoms. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2011.06.015

Cite This Page:

University of Miami. "Psychologists develop successful prevention program for postpartum OCD." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818132219.htm>.
University of Miami. (2011, August 22). Psychologists develop successful prevention program for postpartum OCD. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818132219.htm
University of Miami. "Psychologists develop successful prevention program for postpartum OCD." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110818132219.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Study On Artists' Brain Shows They're 'Structurally Unique'

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The brains of artists aren't really left-brain or right-brain, but rather have extra neural matter in visual and motor control areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Is Apathy A Sign Of A Shrinking Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) A recent study links apathetic feelings to a smaller brain. Researchers say the results indicate a need for apathy screening for at-risk seniors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins