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Karen Kleiman of her Postpartum Stress Center in NJ writes,

“Current screening tools for postpartum depression and anxiety do not assess for scary thoughts which are pervasive and highly distressing. Here is a look at the PPSC’s guide for healthcare providers who (hopefully) will begin to integrate a one-question screen into their practices.”

Of the women here in Hawaii that I talk with, probably at least half of them will admit to scary thoughts.  This is considerably more than general write-ups about “PPD” suggest.

Please know, these thoughts are a kind of “baby proofing” for potential dangers–what could possibly harm my baby–and not an indication of some Freudian “deep seated issue” or other babble-babble.  The thoughts are obsesssions, as in obsessive compulsive disorder type of obsessions.  Obsessions, we learned at the PSI conference in Texas (2008), occur “in context”.  So a teen’s obsessions are often about their sexuality–are they gay, will they have a boy/girlfriend, will they ever have sex.  A new mom’s obsessions are about potential harm–physical, illness, etc.–coming to her baby.  “What if I dropped the baby over the railing?”  “What if the knife I’m cutting up dinner with [harmed] my baby!”  “What if the bath water is too hot?”  “The bath water could [harm] my baby!”

These thoughts are pretty normal in the postpartum world.  And they are treatable.  Hospitalization is not necessary.  Read Karen’s article.