Postpartum Psychosis

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a severe perinatal mood & anxiety disorder (PMAD) with a sudden onset, which is usually within the first 2 weeks after childbirth. It is relatively rare, occurring in 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries.

Postpartum psychosis indicates a break from reality, in which delusions make sense and feel very real to the woman experiencing the psychosis. There is a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness. Immediate treatment is imperative.

What are the risk factors for Postpartum Psychosis?

The main risk factors for postpartum psychosis include:

  • Previous bipolar episodes, psychosis, or postpartum psychosis
  • Discontinuation of mood stabilizers
  • First baby
  • OB complications
  • Perinatal infant mortality
  • Family history of bipolar disorder or postpartum psychosis
  • Sleep deprivation

What are the symptoms of Postpartum Psychosis?
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping, insomnia
  • Delusions or strange beliefs
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness
  • Hyperactivity

What is the treatment for Postpartum Psychosis?

Most women with postpartum psychosis will need to be hospitalized (preferably in a Mother & Baby Unit) and treated with medication. This is usually an antipsychotic, a mood stabilizer or both. Some of these medications are safe for breastfeeding and some are not.

Who can help diagnose/treat Postpartum Psychosis?
  • Mental Health Practitioner