Experiential avoidance and the misinterpretation of intrusions as prospective predictors of postpartum obsessive-compulsive symptoms in first-time parents

Heidi J. Ojalehto, Samantha N. Hellberg, Megan W. Butcher, Jennifer L. Buchholz, Kiara R. Timpano, Jonathan S. Abramowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

It is well established that the transition to new parenthood is associated with the onset or worsening of obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS); however, less is known regarding specific risk factors associated with the development of postpartum OCS. The present prospective study examined experiential avoidance and interpretations of intrusive thoughts as predictors of the development of postpartum OCS in first-time mothers and fathers. Participants were 64 expecting parents (33 mothers and 31 partners—all fathers) who were followed from the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy into the postpartum. All completed measures of postpartum OCS, experiential avoidance, and interpretations of intrusive thoughts. Experiential avoidance and the pre-existing tendency to misinterpret intrusive thoughts were predictors of infant-related OCS in the early postpartum, but not at six months postpartum. These findings provide support for particular psychological risk factors in the development of infant-related OCS among first-time mothers and fathers. Implications for prevention and intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Contextual Behavioral Science
Volume20
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • Experiential avoidance
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • OCD
  • Postpartum
  • Postpartum OCD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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