About Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum Psychosis affects between 1-3 of every one thousand new
mothers. This mood disorder affects new mothers indiscriminately. In
some cases, the woman that develops postpartum psychosis has no history
of depression or other mood disorders. In other cases, a woman may have
a latent condition that surfaces as she experiences the hormonal intensity
of the postpartum months.
Postpartum Psychosis is a devastating mood disorder that can develop
two to four weeks postpartum or immediately after a woman gives birth.
Postpartum psychosis causes paranoia, hallucinations (hearing voices
urging a new mother to kill herself or her child), severe insomnia,
loss of appetite, anxiety and depression. A woman suffering from postpartum
psychosis often suffers alone because of the shame associated with this
A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis may be in danger of taking
her own life or that of her child. This condition is considered a psychiatric
emergency and demands an aggressive response, including immediate hospitalization.
A woman in the throes of postpartum psychosis may not realize how ill
she is. She needs her family and friends to be proactive and help her
get the treatment she needs.
It is it critical that pregnant women disclose any history (family or
personal) of depression, Bipolar Mood Disorder, or Schizophrenia. This
history may increase her risk of developing postpartum depression or
psychosis. But by disclosing these risk factors during the pregnancy,
she and her physician can work towards an effective treatment plan should
a depressive or psychotic incident occur. A woman who has already had
an incident of postpartum psychosis increases her risk of a second incident
of postpartum psychosis with a subsequent pregnancy by 50 percent.
Learn more about this devastating mood disorder and visit
NPR's discussion board.
Learn more about the
way that hormonal fluctuations affect women's moods.