Impact of the peripartum period on the longitudinal course of obsessive-compulsive disorder


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Some women are vulnerable to developing new onset obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or having an exacerbation of pre-existing OCD during reproductive cycle events. Reports on the impact of the peripartum period on pre-existing OCD are inconsistent, with both worsening and improving symptom severity described. Studies have primarily been retrospective or have collected few data points, which limits the investigators' ability to capture the range of OCD symptoms during this time period, systematically and prospectively. The objective of this investigation was to add to the existing literature on the impact of the peripartum period on the course of pre-existing OCD. We conducted a secondary analysis of a subset data from the Brown Longitudinal Obsessive Compulsive Study, a prospective, observational study of OCD course. Nineteen women who experienced a pregnancy during the course of the study (9.5% of overall sample of women) were followed on average for 486 ± 133 weeks. Weekly psychiatric status ratings (PSRs) of OCD severity were compared between peripartum and non-peripartum periods. We found that the peripartum period did not significantly impact the course of OCD severity in the majority of women (N = 13, 69%). Of the minority of women with measurable variability in OCD symptoms, no statistically significant difference in PSR scores was observed between peripartum and non-peripartum periods. In this novel yet small dataset, the severity of OCD does not appear to worsen for most women during the peripartum period.

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