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Is it Postpartum Depression or OCD?

Most of us are familiar with postpartum depression and may have even experienced it ourselves. Whether our closeness to postpartum depression is a first hand or second-hand experience, it can feel defeating and confusing as we don’t have a clear way to heal in an approachable timeline as we may with let’s say, the flu, but like the flu, postpartum depression can be debilitating for all involved. 


Part of our lack of understanding of PPD stems from our long-standing inability to talk about it openly. Though it’s becoming more common to bring up in casual conversation or at the very least, in the doctor’s office, there are many parts of it and variants of it we don’t yet recognize as effectively. 


Take postpartum OCD for example. Up to 70% of women diagnosed with PPD could also have PP-OCD. Symptoms of this condition include:


1. Intrusive thoughts: These are recurring and distressing thoughts or images that are unwanted and often involve harm coming to the baby. These thoughts can be extremely distressing and can cause significant anxiety.


2. Compulsive behaviors: Individuals with postpartum OCD may engage in repetitive behaviors or rituals to alleviate their anxiety or prevent harm from coming to the baby. These behaviors may include excessive cleaning / washing, checking on the baby repeatedly, or arranging things in a specific order.


3. Hyperawareness and hypervigilance: People with postpartum OCD may constantly monitor their baby's well-being and safety. They may be overly concerned about potential dangers and may feel the need to be constantly on guard.


4. Fear of being alone with the baby: Some individuals with postpartum OCD may experience intense fear or anxiety when they are alone with their baby. This fear may be related to intrusive thoughts or worries about their ability to care for the baby.


5. Shame and guilt: Postpartum OCD can cause significant distress and feelings of guilt or shame. Individuals may feel ashamed or embarrassed by their intrusive thoughts and may be hesitant to share their experiences with others.


It is important to note that these symptoms can vary from person to person, and not everyone with postpartum OCD will experience all of these symptoms. If you suspect you may have postpartum OCD, it is important to seek professional help for a proper diagnosis and to discuss treatment options that are effective for new or nursing mothers. 


Ketamine treatment may be highly effective for new or nursing mothers because Ketamine and its active metabolite appear in milk in very low levels and its oral bioavailability is low, indicating a low risk to breastfed babies. Read more about a study on 298 breastfed neonates whose mothers received Ketamine treatment as an anesthetic and note Ketamine has continued to show a strong ability to show a positive impact on depression in as little as two hours.


Read more on the effect of ketamine in preventing PPD read more about one woman's experience with postpartum OCD image credit: Nami.org.



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