Postpartum Psychosis: Everything You Need To Know

Mariella Arceo

May 09, 2023

What if the joy and excitement of welcoming a new baby were replaced by intrusive thoughts, confusion, paranoia and drastic changes in behavior? For some mothers, this is a reality; postpartum psychosis (PPP) is an extreme form of maternal mental illness that affects approximately one to two out of every 1,000 new mothers. PPP can be incredibly difficult for both mother and family—and it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of PPP so that appropriate medical attention can be provided as soon as possible. In this blog post, you will find everything you need to help bring awareness about postpartum psychosis: what it is; how it manifests; its potentially severe risks; precautions families should take before and after birth; signs and symptoms of PPP to look out for; strategies for addressing potential triggers and more.
postpartum psychosis affects one to two out of every 1,000 new mothers
What is postpartum psychosis and what are its symptoms?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental health condition that can occur after giving birth. It is different from the more common postpartum depression and is characterized by symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and severe mood swings.

Women who experience postpartum psychosis may have thoughts of self harm or their newborn, which requires immediate help. Other symptoms may include confusion, disorientation severe anxiety, paranoia and rapid mood swings.

Women with a history of bipolar disorder or previous postpartum psychosis are at higher risk of developing it, but it can affect anyone who recently gave birth. It is important for women, their families, and healthcare providers to be aware of the symptoms and seek help from mental health professionals if they occur.

What are the causes of postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious condition that can affect women soon after giving birth. The condition is distinct from the more common baby blues and postpartum depression, which affect up to 80% of new mothers to some degree.

Postpartum psychosis is less common, affecting around one or two in every thousand new mothers. It typically occurs within the first two weeks after giving birth and can result in symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, rapid mood swings, confusion, and disordered thinking. 

While the exact causes of postpartum psychosis are not fully understood, there are several factors that appear to increase the likelihood of developing the condition, including a personal or family history of mental illness or substance abuse, a history of postpartum psychosis, a traumatic or stressful childbirth experience, and hormonal changes after labor. It's important for women and their partners to be aware of the signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis and to seek professional help if they suspect that they or a loved one may be affected.

How is postpartum psychosis different from postpartum depression?
While they may sound similar, they are very different conditions. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental illness that usually develops within the first two weeks after giving birth. Women with postpartum psychosis may experience hallucinations, delusions, confusion, and suicidal thoughts. 

In contrast, postpartum depression is much more common and can occur at any point in the first year after childbirth. Women with postpartum depression may experience feelings of sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and anxiety. 

While both conditions can be debilitating, it's important to recognize the difference between them so that new mothers can receive the appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

How can an individual with postpartum psychosis seek help?
If you suspect that you are experiencing postpartum psychosis, seeking help is crucial. This serious mental health condition can impact new mothers and requires immediate attention. 

Don't hesitate to talk to a healthcare provider, such as your OB-GYN or primary care physician, for an evaluation. They can refer you to a mental health specialist or psychiatrist who can provide diagnosis and treatment options. 

Friends and family members can also be a valuable source of support during this time. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength and taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health.
What are treatment options available for those with postpartum psychosis? 

Postpartum psychosis treatment can be complex and varied depending on the severity of the condition. It is a serious mental health condition that can occur in new mothers within the first few weeks after giving birth. Early diagnosis and immediate treatment are critical for a successful recovery. 
Treatment may include medications, such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants, and therapy sessions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and talk therapy. A combination of medication and therapy has been found to be most effective. 

It is important to seek professional help if a new mother is showing signs of postpartum psychosis, as the condition can be life-threatening. The good news is that with the right treatment, recovery is possible.

What are some coping strategies to manage the symptoms of postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but severe mental health condition affecting new mothers. The disorder typically occurs within the first few weeks after giving birth and can cause an array of symptoms, including delusions, confusion, and disorientation. Although the condition can be overwhelming, women suffering from postpartum psychosis can take solace in the fact that they are not alone. 

Coping strategies can be highly effective in managing the symptoms of the disorder, such as attending counseling sessions and seeking out support groups. Talking openly with a healthcare professional can also help to develop coping strategies that work best for the individual's unique situation. 
While postpartum psychosis can be a challenging condition, it is important for new mothers to know that with proper treatment, full recovery is possible.

Supporting a loved one with postpartum psychosis requires patience.
Supporting a loved one with postpartum psychosis can be an emotionally challenging experience. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but severe mental illness that affects new mothers and can cause delusions, hallucinations, and depression. It is essential to stay supportive and loving towards them during this difficult time.

Encourage your loved one to seek professional help and provide them with reassurance that they are not alone in this journey. Offer to take on some of their responsibilities and ensure that they are getting enough rest and proper nutrition. Remember that the road to recovery may be long, but with proper treatment and support, many women fully recover from postpartum psychosis. Your love and encouragement can make a significant impact on their journey towards healing.
Experiencing postpartum psychosis can be a frightening and overwhelming experience but it is important to remember that support is available. Reaching out to healthcare professionals as soon as you suspect something isn’t right can ensure that you can receive the best possible treatment. 

Learning about the symptoms and appropriate treatment options, along with taking active steps to improve your mental health, such as engaging in meditation or joining a therapy group, can provide invaluable assistance during this difficult time. If a loved one is struggling with postpartum psychosis, offering unconditional support and understanding can help them around the clock. 

With access to proper care and support from friends and family, postpartum psychosis can be successfully managed. If you or anyone you know is struggling with postpartum psychosis, do not hesitate to reach out Mosaic Minds Counseling.