Postpartum psychosis, also known as puerperal psychosis, affects 2 in a thousand women. It is a severe episode of mental illness which begins suddenly in the days or weeks after having a baby.
Postpartum psychosis can happen to any woman. It often occurs “out of the blue” to women who have not been ill before. However, there is a greater risk where a woman has experienced it after a previous pregnancy, or where she has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder (manic depression).
The highest risk time is in the first month after childbirth. Symptoms vary and can change rapidly. These include high mood (mania), depression, confusion, hallucinations and delusions. It can be a frightening experience for women, their partners, friends and family.
Postpartum psychosis requires urgent treatment. You should seek help as quickly as possible.
In many cases, treatment is best given in hospital, and women usually have the opportunity of being admitted along with their baby.
There are very effective treatments and women usually recover fully after an episode.