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Main article: Postpartum depression

Post-partum psychosis or PPP, (also called Post-natal Psychosis or PNP and puerperal psychosis (PP) in the UK) is a mental illness, which involves a complete break with reality. Although correctly termed as a postnatal stress disorder or postpartum depressive reaction, Post-partum psychosis is different from Post-partum depression. The majority of PPP occurs within the first two weeks after childbirth with a classic 10-14 day meltdown, likely caused by the radical hormonal changes combined with neurotransmitter overactivity. When correctly diagnosed at the earliest signs and immediately treated with anti-psychotic medication, the illness is recoverable within a few weeks. If undiagnosed, even for just a few days, it can take the woman months to recover. In cases of PPP, the sufferer is often unaware that she is unwell. [1]

Psychosis can also take place in combination with an underlying psychiatric disorder, such as bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, or undiagnosed depression. In some women, a part-partum psychosis is the only psychotic episode they will ever experience, but, for others, it is just the first indication of a psychiatric disorder. Only 1 to 2 women per 1,000 births develop post-partum psychosis. [1] It is a rare condition, and often treatable. Whilst postpartum/puerperal psychosis is a serious psychiatric illness, the risks of a mother suffering this illness harming her baby are low: infanticide rates are estimated at 4%, and suicide rates in postpartum/puerperal psychosis are estimated at 5%.

See also


Key texts – Books

Additional material – Books

Key texts – Papers

Additional material - Papers

External links

  1. Fray, Kathy: "Oh Baby...Birth, Babies & Motherhood Uncensored", pages 364-381, Random House NZ, 2005