Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious medical illness that occurs
Some confuse this with postpartum depression, but this is very different.
Let’s learn a little about postpartum psychosis.
What is Postpartum psychosis?
A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis may hear voices, see things that
aren’t real, have extreme sadness or anxiety. These symptoms can be
extremely scary for the woman.
This is what may be sensationalized in the media when a new mother kills
Remember, this is NOT postpartum depression!
Postpartum psychosis is a rare medical illness that 1 -2 out of
1000 women face after delivery.
That is less than 1% (0.1- 0.2% to be exact )!
This is a rare but severe illness that requires emergency medical care.
How do you or your partner/ family recognize postpartum
Here are some of the symptoms:
Delusions or strange beliefs
Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
Feeling very irritated
Decreased need for or inability to sleep
Paranoia and suspiciousness
Rapid mood swings
Difficulty communicating at times
Postpartum psychosis comes on suddenly and most women
are affected in the first 2 weeks after delivery. It can
occur as early as the first 48 to 72 hours after
Although 40-50% of women with postpartum psychosis do not have prior
psychiatric illness, the following may put you at higher risk.
History of bipolar disorder
History of postpartum psychosis in a previous pregnancy
History of schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia
Family history of postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder
Stopping psychiatric medications for pregnancy
The delusions and beliefs that accompany this psychosis feels very real to
Although this break from reality has the risk of infanticide and/or
suicide, most women with this illness do not harm themselves or their baby.
But it is important to seek emergency medical care immediately if these
This illness is very treatable! Treatment includes
antidepressants, mood stabilizer and antipsychotic medications. The most
severe symptoms can last 2 to 12 weeks. It can take 6 to 12 months to
recover completely from this illness.
Most women make a full recovery with the right treatment and
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but severe illness that is a medical
Family members and moms should be aware of symptoms and call 911 if
postpartum psychosis is suspected. Remember that treatment can help with
Contact MaternalWell text support for any general questions.
If you need one on one counseling, schedule a telehealth consult with one
of our maternal mental health specialists.