Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) affects approximately 1% of adults in the general population and may cause significant distress and disability. For reasons we do not fully understand, women appear to be particularly vulnerable to OCD — either new onset or exacerbation of symptoms — during pregnancy and the postpartum period. According to the results of a study of pregnant and postpartum women published earlier this year (Fairbrother et al, 2021), OCD symptoms were common during the perinatal period, with 7.8% of women during pregnancy and 16.9% during the postpartum period reporting OCD symptoms.
While there is data to support the reproductive safety of certain medications during pregnancy, many women who are pregnant or nursing would prefer to limit the use of medications during the perinatal period.
While there are effective non-pharmacologic treatments for OCD, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), many individuals are not able to access this specialized treatment. A new research study being carried out at the Center for OCD and Related Disorders (CORD) at MGH is now recruiting individuals with OCD. This study will evaluate the effectiveness of two digital (app- or web-based) interventions for the treatment of OCD. Participants will participate in digital health programs which use either CBT (app-based) or a Health and Well-Being Program (web-based) to target OCD symptoms.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD
Fairbrother N, Collardeau F, Albert AYK, et al. High Prevalence and Incidence of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Among Women Across Pregnancy and the Postpartum. J Clin Psychiatry. 2021;82(2):20m13398. doi:10.4088/JCP.20m13398
Wilhelm S, Weingarden H, Ladis I, Braddick V, Shin J, Jacobson NC. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the Digital Age: Presidential Address. Behav Ther. 2020 01; 51(1):1-14.