Obsessive-compulsive disorder in the perinatal period: Epidemiology, phenomenology, pathogenesis, and treatment

  • Álvaro Frías FPCEE Blanquerna. Ramon Llull University, Spain
  • Carolina Palma FPCEE Blanquerna. Ramon Llull University, Spain
  • Francisco Barón FPCEE Blanquerna. Ramon Llull University, Spain
  • Paloma Varela Psychiatry Unit. Hospital of Mataró, Spain
  • Ana Álvarez Psychiatry Unit. Hospital of Mataró, Spain
  • Ana Salvador Psychiatry Unit. Hospital of Mataró, Spain
Keywords: Obsessive-compulsive disorder, perinatal period, primary prevention, cognitive behavioural therapy, theoretical study


The aim of this review is to describe the main theoretical findings and research conclusions about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in the perinatal period. On one hand, epidemiological studies show that the risk of OCD onset and/or exacerbation could increase in this period, particularly in the puerperium. Phenomenologically, in this stage aggressive and contamination obsessions are very common and are related to the fetus or newborn. On the other hand, regarding OCD pathogenesis in this period, there is indirect evidence to suggest the participation of neuroendocrine (e.g. female gonadal steroids and oxytocin) and cognitive behavioural variables (e.g. hyper-responsibility, threat overestimation, and mental control). In terms of research, more empirical studies are needed to contrast these specific vulnerability factors. Moreover, no empirically validated psychotherapeutic treatments (controlled trials) adapted to this OCD subgroup were found, although some studies highlight the role of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an effective intervention in the context of selective primary prevention.


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How to Cite
Frías, Álvaro, Palma, C., Barón, F., Varela, P., Álvarez, A., & Salvador, A. (2014). Obsessive-compulsive disorder in the perinatal period: Epidemiology, phenomenology, pathogenesis, and treatment. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology, 31(1), 1-7. https://doi.org/10.6018/analesps.31.1.168511
Clinical and Health Psychology