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Postpartum Psychosis PP is a severe, but treatable, form of mental illness that occurs after having a baby. There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk. PP normally begins in the first few days to weeks after childbirth. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Most women need to be treated with medication and admitted to hospital. With the right treatment, women with PP do make a full recovery. Recovery takes time and the journey may be tough. The illness can be frightening and shocking for both the woman experiencing it and her family. Women do return to their normal selves, and are able to regain the mothering role they expected.

The period after childbirth can be a devastating time to experience a severe mental illness. For women who experience PP, their partners, friends and family, it can be hard to find high quality information about the symptoms, causes and treatment. There are a great many other symptoms that can be experienced. Postpartum Psychosis is the label used by most professionals for an episode of mania or psychosis with onset soon after childbirth.

However, other names can be used and this can be confusing. There are many other mental health conditions that occur following childbirth, including Postnatal Depression PND , severe anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. PND is much more common than PP, but tends to require different treatments and has different causes and outcomes. Unfortunately we know little about the causes of PP.

Research points to biological, probably hormonal, factors related to pregnancy and childbirth but many other factors are likely to be involved. For further information about PP take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions, read our Insider Guides , see the Royal College of Psychiatrists PP patient information leaflet which we have helped to develop, read the personal stories of APP members, and find out about the research we are conducting to help understand more about the condition.

Symptoms There are a large variety of symptoms that women with PP can experience. Depressed, anxious, or confused. Excessively irritable or changeable in mood. Postpartum Psychosis includes one or more of the following: Strange beliefs that could not be true delusions. Hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not there hallucinations.

High mood with loss of touch with reality mania. Severe confusion. These are also common symptoms: Being more talkative, sociable, on the phone an excessive amount.

Having a very busy mind or racing thoughts. Having trouble sleeping, or not feeling the need to sleep. Behaving in a way that is out of character or out of control.

Feeling that things are connected in special ways or that stories on the TV or radio have special personal meaning. Feeling that the baby is connected to God or the Devil in some way. Diagnosis Postpartum Psychosis is the label used by most professionals for an episode of mania or psychosis with onset soon after childbirth.

Causes Unfortunately we know little about the causes of PP.

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Postpartum psychosis

Pfuhlmann B, Stoeber G. Franzek E, Beckmann H. Differenzierte diagnostic Verlauf und Ausgang postpartaler Psychosen. Eine katamnestische Untersuchung Curso y progreso diferencial de la psicosis post-parto.


2008, Number 1

Malnutrition by defect of a newborn because of the puerperal maternal psychosis: presentation of a case. ISSN In the following work we followed up a child since he was a newborn until he was 1 year old for malnutrition by defect, caused by the puerperal maternal psychosis. In this case the mother rejected her son, refusing to feed him, depriving him of such important thing in this stage of life like the exclusive maternal breastfeeding, requiring of complementary nourishing in such early age to get an adequate weight gain and a psychomotor development that would equalize, in a short period of time, the ones got by healthy children of the same age, without sequels affecting his subsequent development. It was necessary a differentiated attention by a multidisciplinary team formed by the integral general physician of the family consultation, a pediatrician of the Working Basic Group, a nutritionist, rehabilitators from the Centre of Neurodevelopment, and a psychologist and a psychiatrist for treating the mother.


Action on Postpartum Psychosis

Back to Health A to Z. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental health illness that can affect a woman soon after she has a baby. This is normal and usually only lasts for a few days. But postpartum psychosis is very different from the "baby blues". It's a serious mental illness and should be treated as a medical emergency. More rarely, they can develop several weeks after the baby is born.

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