top of page

Postpartum psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a rare but severe mental health condition that can occur in the first few weeks after childbirth. It is characterized by a rapid onset of severe mental health symptoms, often involving hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric emergency that requires immediate medical attention and intervention.



Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition and can manifest with a range of symptoms, including:
Hallucinations: Seeing or hearing things that are not real. These hallucinations are often vivid and can be very distressing.
Delusions: Holding false and irrational beliefs that are resistant to reason or contrary to reality. These delusions can be grandiose, paranoid, or bizarre in nature.
Mood Instability: Extreme mood swings, ranging from manic or elevated moods to severe depressive states.
Agitation and Restlessness: A state of intense physical and emotional unease.
Confusion and Disorientation: Difficulty thinking clearly and organizing thoughts.
Insomnia: Severe difficulty sleeping, even when exhausted.
Hyperactivity or Aggressive Behaviour: An increase in activity levels, including restlessness and agitation. In some cases, aggression may occur.
Lack of Insight: In some cases, individuals may not recognize the severity of their symptoms or the need for treatment.
Impaired Judgment: Making decisions that are not in the best interest of the individual or their baby.
Altered Perception of Reality: A distorted sense of reality, making it difficult to distinguish between what is real and what is not.


The exact cause of postpartum psychosis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be influenced by a combination of biological, psychological, and hormonal factors:
Hormonal Changes: Rapid fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly estrogen and progesterone, after childbirth may play a role.
Biological Vulnerability: Some individuals may have a predisposition to developing psychotic symptoms, which may be triggered by childbirth.
Sleep Deprivation: Lack of sleep can exacerbate symptoms and contribute to the development of postpartum psychosis.
Stress and Emotional Factors: Significant life stressors, lack of social support, or a history of mental health conditions can increase the risk.
Genetic Predisposition: There may be a genetic component, as individuals with a family history of psychotic disorders may be at higher risk.


Diagnosing postpartum psychosis is a critical and time-sensitive process. It typically involves a thorough assessment by a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or mental health specialist. The diagnosis is based on a detailed clinical interview, observation of behaviour, and, in some cases, the use of standardized assessment tools.


Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric emergency that requires immediate intervention. Treatment may involve:

In most cases, hospitalization is necessary to ensure the safety of the individual and their baby.

Antipsychotic medications are often used to rapidly stabilize symptoms.

Individual and family therapy can be beneficial in helping the individual and their family members cope with the condition.

Safety Measures:
Ensuring a safe environment for the individual and their baby, which may include close monitoring and supervision.

Support and Education:
Providing information and support to the individual and their family members about postpartum psychosis and its management.

It's crucial for anyone experiencing symptoms of postpartum psychosis, or for those who suspect someone may be experiencing it, to seek immediate medical attention. Early intervention is essential for the safety and well-being of both the individual and their baby. With prompt treatment, recovery is possible.

bottom of page