What is Postpartum Psychosis?
Postpartum or postnatal psychosis is a quite rare but very serious mental health condition that develops after birth, often suddenly. Like with all taboo subjects, there is a lot of misinformation, sham and stigma attached to postpartum psychosis (PP) which is exactly why we wanted to talk about it in today’s blog. Talking about personal and taboo subjects openly and plainly is one of our missions here at Secret Whispers so if you enjoy reading today’s blog then be sure to check out some of the others.
Postpartum psychosis symptoms
The signs and symptoms of PP usually start suddenly after giving birth, sometimes within hours or days or less commonly, within a few weeks. PP is complex and usually manifests as a mixture of psychosis, depression and mania.
You could feel;
- Extremely excited
- Rapid mood swings
- Confused or disoriented
- Very strongly attached or indifferent to your baby
- Be restless
- Unable to sleep
- Unable to concentrate
- Experience delusions or hallucinations
Delusions and hallucinations
Delusions and hallucinations are common symptoms of PP.
Delusions are when you believe something that others don’t like;
- You are being followed
- Someone is trying to control you
- Someone is trying to kill you or you baby
- Your thoughts are being read or listened to
- You are very powerful
- You have special ability or divine insight
Hallucinations are when you experience things that others don’t like;
- Hearing voices
- Seeing faces or people
- Having unexplained sensations
Delusions and hallucinations can be very frightening especially as no one else seems to believe that these things are happening apart from you.
What causes postpartum psychosis?
There isn’t much clear evidence one hat exactly causes PP but there are risk factors that could mean you are more likely to develop it like;
- A personal or family history of PP
- A personal or family history of other mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
- A traumatic birth or pregnancy
Treatment for postpartum psychosis
There are a range of treatment options available for PP, you and your car provider will work together to find the best treatment plan for you and this will likely be a combination.
- Medication like antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood stabilizers
- Psychological therapy like cognitive behavioural therapy
- Electroconvulsive therapy is sometimes recommended if all other treatment options have failed.
Is postpartum psychosis the same as postpartum depression?
Both PP and postpartum or postnatal depression are mental health conditions that affect new mothers. They are both complex conditions that manifest differently in every individual. PP is often characterised by hallucinations and delusions which are not usually present in postpartum depression. PP is also characterized by rapidly changing moods from very high to very low whereas postpartum depression is more commonly characterized by a persistently low mood. They do share similar treatment options like medication and psychological treatment.
Where to find help for postpartum psychosis
If you feel comfortable, you should speak to your primary care provider, this might be your GP, midwife or obstetrician in the postpartum period. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your primary care provider then ask your family, friends and loved ones for some help and they can support you while you get the help you need. There are also independent charities and organisation like Action on Postpartum Psychosis or The Maternal Mental Health Alliance that you can reach out to for advice and support.
We hope you enjoyed this blog, why not check out What Pregnancy and Birth Does To Your Pelvic Floor and Breastfeeding Basics
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