It is safe to say that a good majority of the population has heard of postpartum depression. Many may even know a new mother who has experienced this condition. However, far fewer have heard of or truly understand postpartum psychosis, this writer included.
Postpartum psychosis, also referred to as postnatal psychosis, is very rare. It develops in only 0.1% of all women after they give birth. Women who have experienced the condition previously are said to have a much higher rate of 30% with each additional pregnancy. Those who already have a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are also at an increased risk.
Postpartum psychosis can present with a rapid onset of a few days to that of a few weeks following child birth. A limited number of women do not exhibit symptoms, however, until they cease breast feeding, or until their menstrual cycles resume. Most all cases develop within two weeks, though. It is important to note that it is a medical emergency and should be treated immediately to help reduce the severity of symptoms.
The most common symptoms of postpartum psychosis include hallucinations and delusions. Secondary symptoms may vary. They can include paranoia, mania, loss of inhibitions, low mood, agitation, restlessness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite and/or severe confusion. Rapidly fluctuating moods can also occur. A minimal percentage of women effected by this condition may even experience mania and depression simultaneously.
Due to the presentation of symptomatology, the psychiatric condition may be a severe emergency that requires admission to hospital for treatment. When at all possible, it is best for the patient to be admitted with her newborn, into special psychiatric care options referred to as a mother-and-baby units. This helps to facilitate the continued bonding of mother and baby. Medication management figures largely included in symptom reduction. The medications chosen often consist of a blend of neuroleptic (s), antidepressant(s) and mood stabilizers. Most women who follow medical protocol make a full recovery within several months.
K. K. (2013, October 6). Postpartum Psychosis: What You Might Not Know. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201310/postpartum-psychosis-what-you-might-not-know
Sit, D., ROTHSCHILD, A. J., & WISNER, K. L. (2011, June 7). A Review of Postpartum Psychosis. Retrieved March 14, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109493/ doi: 10.1089/jwh.2006.15.352
Crystal K. Bray,
WKPIC Doctoral Intern