A perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is defined as an illness exhibiting first symptoms in the context of pregnancy and the postpartal period. There are no valid data up to date concerning the incidence of OCD, which might be of multifactorial origin, in this period in which females are highly vulnerable for psychiatric diseases. From a clinical point of view, obsessions and compulsions are mainly related to the well-being of the foetus or newborn baby. Differential diagnosis of perinatal OCD including pregnancy psychosis and post-partum depression is often difficult. Concerning treatment, non-pharmacological approaches should be preferred. Administration of SSRIs should be strongly restricted. However, there are no controlled therapy studies in patients with perinatal OCD. Furthermore, current knowledge about these patients is still limited. The aim of this review article is the presentation of phenomenology, pathogenesis, differential diagnosis and treatment of perinatal OCD. The mental situation of the female patients can be improved and stabilised if early diagnosis of a perinatal OCD leads to early initiation of an adequate therapy. This will then enable a good and stable mother-child relationship to develop.
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