Does your patient have postpartum OCD?

Author and Disclosure Information



Evaluate women who endorse obsessions or compulsions for OCD. Women who meet diagnostic criteria for OCD should also be assessed for common psychiatric comorbidities, including MDD, anxiety disorders, or bipolar disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder with absent insight and delusional beliefs should be differentiated from postpartum psychosis, which is often a manifestation of bipolar disorder.

Treatment: What to consider

When selecting a treatment, consider factors such as symptom severity, psychiatric comorbidities, the patient’s insight into her OCD symptoms, patient preference, and breastfeeding status. Cognitive-behavioral therapy with exposure response prevention is indicated for patients with mild to moderate OCD. Pharmacotherapy should be reserved for individuals with severe OCD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the mainstay pharmacologic treatment of postpartum OCD; however, there are currently no randomized controlled trials of SSRIs for women with postpartum OCD. Augmentation with quetiapine should be considered for women who have an inadequate response to SSRIs.


The author thanks Christine Baczynski for her help with the preparation of this article.


Next Article: