What is Postpartum Psychosis? Signs & Treatments

What is Postpartum Psychosis? Signs & Treatments

Before we get started, if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of postpartum psychosis, please reach out to someone you trust or contact emergency services in your region.

If you are based in the United States, here’s how to get immediate help.

Postpartum psychosis is a highly distressing condition that requires treatment.

If you suspect that this is what you are dealing with, it’s important that you get medical attention.

Knowing what to look out for can help you get the support and treatment you need.

In this article: 📝

  • What is postpartum psychosis?
  • Can PPD turn into psychosis?
  • What is the definition of postpartum psychosis?
  • Postpartum psychosis symptoms
  • How common is postpartum psychosis?
  • What causes postpartum psychosis?
  • How long does postpartum psychosis last?
  • Is postpartum psychosis permanent?

What is postpartum psychosis?

It is common to feel down after giving birth.

It is a major transition that affects every element of your life.

Both your internal and external worlds are shifting in a profound way—and that comes with emotional growing pains.

Feeling teary and anxious after giving birth is what is known as “the baby blues”—and it’s expected to affect as many as 75% of new mamas.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is more serious and requires treatment. If you feel as though your mood is not improving or feelings of sadness and hopelessness are getting more intense, reach out to a healthcare provider as soon as you can.

Can PPD turn into psychosis?

In very rare cases, PPD can turn into psychosis.

Postpartum psychosis can come on very suddenly—often within a day or two after giving birth—and can have symptoms that are more similar to bipolar manic episodes.

What is the definition of postpartum psychosis?

Also called “perinatal psychosis,” “postnatal psychosis” or “puerperal psychosis,” postpartum psychosis is a very serious mental health condition that requires medical attention.

Psychosis means experiencing reality in a different way from those around you. It may involve hallucinations, paranoia, and feeling severely disorientated.

Postpartum psychosis symptoms

Symptoms are not the same for everyone, but some common experiences are:

  • Severe agitation and unrest
  • Behavior that is erratic and unpredictable
  • Paranoia
  • Quick and intense mood shifts
  • Delirium (not knowing where you are or what is happening around you)
  • Hallucinations (hearing and seeing things that are not there)
  • Delusional beliefs. These can manifest as feelings that someone wants to harm you or your baby
  • A desire to hurt yourself or others
  • Suicidal thoughts.

These symptoms can be very dangerous for you and those around you—so if you are feeling any of them, tell someone you trust and/or get emergency medical care.

Treatment is available, and there is hope.

How common is postpartum psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is rare—which is one reason we don’t hear about it nearly as much as we hear about postpartum depression.

According to the Massachusetts Center for Women’s Mental Health, it’s estimated that postpartum psychosis affects 1 to 2 of every 1,000 births.

While the risk is low, it’s definitely worth having the conversation, because in the postpartum period, the risk of experiencing psychosis is 23 times higher than it is at other times of your life.

What causes postpartum psychosis?

There’s no one cause of postpartum psychosis, but there are certain factors that may put you more at risk.

It has a strong tie to bipolar disorder and may be triggered by the hormone changes that you go through when you give birth.

You are at a greater risk of developing postpartum psychosis if you or a family member has a history of bipolar disorder or psychosis.

How long does postpartum psychosis last?

It’s very difficult to say, as everyone is different.

But about half of women who have one episode of postpartum psychosis will experience another one in future pregnancies.

If you have a history of postpartum psychosis and you are pregnant, tell your doctor so they can get you the support you need.

Ensure that you (or a loved one) makes a note of your triggers (either from a previous pregnancy or in the moment), and do whatever you can to deal with these triggers.

It’s also important to make sure that you are reducing stress within your life as much as you can, along with prioritizing sleep and rest (we appreciate this can be heard with a newborn!).

Make sure you keep communicating with your partner, and never be afraid to lean on family and friends when in need.

Is postpartum psychosis permanent?

If you get the treatment and help you need, it’s possible to make a full recovery.

The support of healthcare professionals and your family and friends is vital.

Postpartum Support International is also a great resource that provides ongoing help to those who need it.

You are not alone. 💗

You might be interested in:
How My Experience With Postpartum Depression Changed My Life
How Long Does Postpartum Depression Last?
5 Ways to Advocate for Yourself During Pregnancy and Postpartum
How to Deal With Postpartum Gas
10 Ideas for a Nutritious Postpartum Diet
A Guide to the Best Types of Postpartum Massage
Postpartum Exercise Tips
An Intro to Postpartum Yoga
What are the Possible Postpartum Complications?
What’s Causing My Postpartum Headache?
Your (Realistic) Postpartum Workout Plan
How to Manage Postpartum Hypertension
What to Do About a Postpartum Rash
What are the Best Postpartum Pads?


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