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Title: The phenomenology of intrusive thoughts and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in the postnatal period
Author: Shulman, Amanda Jane
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2013
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The postnatal period has long been associated with emotional and mood disturbance. While postnatal depression and psychosis have been well documented, anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are less so. The postnatal period is a high-risk time for the development/exacerbation of OCD (PNOCD) and is characterised by aggressive intrusions about the baby. Aggressive intrusions have also been found in the non-clinical postnatal population and in mothers with postnatal depression (PND). Dysfunctional responsibility beliefs have been implicated in the development of OCD. This research seeks compare PNOCD, PND and non-clinical mothers in terms of intrusive thoughts and responsibility beliefs in order to improve differential diagnosis and obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OC). It is hypothesised that mothers with PNOCD have inflated responsibility compared to the other two groups. In this study, three groups of mothers with PNOCD, PND and a non-clinical group were compared across measures of baby-related intrusions, behavioural responses, responsibility attitudes, beliefs, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Results showed that all mothers had intrusions of accidental or deliberate harm in relation to their baby. Mothers with PNOCD were the most distressed by their intrusions. All mothers showed an increase in responsibility beliefs in the postnatal period compared to previous research. Mothers in both clinical groups scored significantly higher than the non-clinical group. Significant differences between mothers with PNOCD and PND were not found . Despite high levels of responsibility beliefs, this did not predict OC symptoms. Intrusions of harm are common in the postnatal period; however, responsibility attitudes and interpretations do not clearly differentiate mothers with PNOCD from mothers with postnatal depression. Findings suggest that a complex relationship exists between mood and QC symptoms. Perhaps a broader conception of postnatal illness, taking into account anxiety, depression and QC symptoms would be a more helpful approach to diagnosis and treatment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available