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SRIP Keynote Award 2022: Dr Fiona Challacombe

'Understanding and working with Perinatal OCD and Anxiety'


Fiona is a Clinical Psychologist and researcher in the field of perinatal mental health, specialising in perinatal anxiety disorders. She is an academic in Women’s Mental Health at King’s College London and has developed and leads a specialist NHS clinical service for parents with anxiety disorders from pregnancy to the end of the third postnatal year. Fiona ran the first treatment trial of therapy for perinatal obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), examining the impact on mothers, parenting and the mother-infant relationship. She is patron of the service user led charity Maternal OCD which raises awareness of the disorder amongst women and healthcare professionals. Fiona is currently researching how best to deliver therapy for antenatal anxiety disorders, and how to support parental mental health in the context of high-risk pregnancies and complex outcomes.


Keynote talk: 'Understanding and working with Perinatal OCD and Anxiety': Anxiety-related disorders affect approximately 15% of perinatal women, reducing their quality of life and for many, impacting on experiences of birth and early parenting. The combination of a sense of high parental responsibility, awareness of threats to the baby and high rates of pregnancy and postnatal complications provides the context for this understandable increase in anxiety. Despite this, anxiety problems can be under-recognised and therefore undertreated. The published evidence base for perinatal anxiety interventions is small and clinicians can be tentative in applying therapy, particularly in pregnancy. Data from the ADEPT trial of CBT for anxiety disorders in pregnancy will be used to illustrate the issues around treatment of perinatal anxiety presentations and how treatment can be effectively adapted.

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