What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Perhaps, if you have watched Eastenders you’ll be familiar with the Stacey Slater storyline, which deals with her struggle with Postpartum Psychosis, which is different from PND in a number of ways.

The following information has been taken from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RC PSYCH) website which can be found here

Postpartum (puerperal) psychosis

This is the most severe type of mental illness that happens after having a baby. It affects around 1 in 1000 women and starts within days or weeks of childbirth.  It can develop in a few hours and can be life-threatening, so needs urgent treatment.

There are many symptoms that may occur.  Your mood may be high or low and there are often rapid mood swings. Women often experience psychotic symptoms. They may believe things that are not true (delusions) or see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations).

This illness always needs medical help and support. You may have to go into hospital. Ideally, this should be to a specialist mother and baby unit where your baby can go with you.

Women who have had previous episodes of severe mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder, are at a high risk of postpartum psychosis. Women, who have had a severe episode of illness following a previous delivery, are also at very high risk. Let your doctor or midwife know about this. You can discuss with them ways to increase the chances of you staying well.

Although puerperal psychosis is a serious condition, the vast majority of women make a full recovery.