What is it?
Postpartum psychosis – also known as puerperal psychosis – is a severe mental health condition experienced by women in the days or weeks after giving birth. It can happen to any woman, whether or not they have previously experienced mental health challenges, and can be a very scary and worrying time for the mother, her partner and loved ones.
It is different to postnatal depression and is much less common, with women usually recovering fully after several weeks; however in some cases it can last longer.
According to The Royal College of Psychiatrists, around 1 in 1,000 women will experience postpartum psychosis.
What are the signs of postpartum psychosis?
Someone with postpartum psychosis may experience hallucinations or delusions. A delusion is when someone has a false belief that other people don’t share, such as that they you are a member of the Royal Family when they are not, or that they have the ability to control different things, such as nature or the weather. Hallucinations are when someone hears or sees things, or tastes, smells or senses things, which others don’t experience.
Other signs of postpartum psychosis include having an inability to concentrate or sleep, with feelings of restlessness. They may feel extreme mood changes, such as excited and elated, to severely depressed and confused.
What should I do if I think I have postpartum psychosis?
It is important that you get help and support as soon as possible; you can speak to a loved one or someone you trust, but it is important that you also get help from a GP as quickly as possible. Treatment usually involves being given an antipsychotic drug, which will help to reduce symptoms and manage your mood, and sometimes an anti-depressant may be prescribed.