Advances in the pharmacological management of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the postpartum period

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2020 Feb;21(2):163-165. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2019.1700229. Epub 2020 Jan 1.


Introduction: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are defined as intrusive, recurrent and distressing thoughts, images or impulses, whereas compulsions are defined as repetitive behaviors or mental acts. While there is an associated distress, and indeed oftentimes, the individual's awareness that these behaviors are excessive and unreasonable, the individual continues to be disabled by an inability to cease their compulsions. The postpartum period may herald the onset of OCD or precipitate an exacerbation of the preexisting OCD symptoms. Common OCD symptom clusters occur in the postpartum period, with specific challenges associated with motherhood and lactation.Areas covered: This brief review aims to review the extent and nature of publications evaluating pharmacological treatment of OCD in the postpartum period.Expert opinion: Education and training should aim to improve the recognition and treatment of postpartum OCD. Due to the limited nature of studies, more research is required to assess the role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the postpartum period.

Keywords: Obsessive-compulsive disorder; breastfeeding; pharmacotherapy; postnatal; postpartum; selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Compulsive Behavior / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors