Have you ever heard of Postpartum Psychosis? 

It is a rare illness in mothers and occurs in approximately 1 to 2 out of every 1,000 deliveries, or approximately .1 -.2% of births.

Although rare, it is important to talk about. With a sudden onset usually in the first 2 weeks postpartum (sometimes even hours after delivery), this mental health disorder involves a disconnect from reality for mothers. If you notice that a friend or family member is acting unlike themselves and experiencing delusions/hallucinations, reach out for medical help immediately.

What does postpartum psychosis look like?

Mothers often experience hallucinations or paranoia that make sense to her, but may not be logical to someone else. The majority of women who experience postpartum psychosis are not harmful or violent, although this can be a concern with this illness. There is approximately a 5% suicide rate of women experiencing postpartum psychosis, and a 4% infanticide rate.

Getting moms the medical help they need is crucial.

Symptoms of postpartum psychosis can include:

  • Delusions or strange beliefs

  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

  • Feeling very irritated

  • Hyperactivity

  • Decreased need for or inability to sleep

  • Paranoia and suspiciousness

  • Rapid mood swings

  • Difficulty communicating at times

What are the risk factors?

While some mothers experience postpartum psychosis even though they have no previous mental health concerns, some risk factors include a previous psychotic episode or even a previous history or family history of bipolar disorder.

If you have a risk of developing postpartum psychosis, it can help to put a plan in order for your postpartum period. Have meetings with everyone involved in your care – your midwife, OB, mental health provider, family, friends and partner. Let them know about the symptoms and what to look out for.

It is important for mothers to reach out immediately if they feel they may be experiencing postpartum psychosis.  Let someone know that you feel you might be experiencing psychosis, and you need medical help immediately.

I have survived postpartum psychosis. What support is available?

If you have survived postpartum psychosis, know that you are not alone. There are support options for mothers who have specifically experienced postpartum psychosis. Postpartum Support International offers support group for survivors every Monday at 7:30 pm ET. For family members, they offer a support group every 1st Wednesday of the month at 7 pm ET. Visit their website for support group options.

Often times, mothers will go through their entire lives not meeting another mom who will openly talk about her postpartum psychosis experience. Know that you are not alone and there are groups that you can join to get support.

Please find the below resources as a guide for healing.

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