Anxiety and intrusive thoughts can be horrifying experiences for new parents. My guest is making significant contributions to the field of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders in the areas of research and education. Join us to learn more about her work.

Today’s guest is Dr. Nichole Fairbrother, a registered psychologist and Clinical Associate Professor with the University of British Columbia's Department of Psychiatry in British Columbia, Canada. She is the head of the UBC Perinatal Anxiety Research Lab, and her research is in the area of perinatal mental health with a focus on anxiety disorders and epidemiology. Dr. Fairbrother directs multidisciplinary studies to assess the prevalence of anxiety disorders among pregnant and postpartum women. Much of her work is focused on understanding the relationship of mothers’ intrusive thoughts, OCD, and mothering behaviors, and she is actively involved to bring awareness, help, and education to women around the world.

Show Highlights:

  • Nichole’s research around anxiety and intrusive thoughts
  • How her personal experience of unwanted intrusive thoughts at the birth of her first child prompted her research
  • The first small study (only 100 women) showed what women reported about their dark feelings and intrusive thoughts
  • How the study was later replicated with a larger group of 2000-3000 women to help with prenatal education
  • One of Nichole’s current projects: an animated educational video about intrusive thoughts and harmful behaviors
  • Why intrusive thoughts are scary and stigmatizing for most women
  • The evolution of thoughts that lead to increased protectiveness as parents of newborns
  • Why unwanted intrusive thoughts in the postpartum and usually accompanied by OCD behaviors
  • Nichole explains the rates of perinatal OCD and the risk for new moms
  • How we can help by providing prenatal education to help mothers recognize the intrusive thoughts
  • How Nichole is working on developing a cognitive behavioral treatment program and is seeking funding to develop the first training module
  • The ongoing study and how you can participate along with all major English-speaking countries in the world (they are looking for about 3000 women who are up to three months postpartum)
  • Messages of healing from Nichole: “Recovery is absolutely within reach if you’re suffering from anxiety and intrusive thoughts. I see people’s faces change when they realize that they are not alone in this.”

Resources:

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