postpartum psychosis after pregnancy

Postpartum Psychosis: Signs, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

When you give birth to a baby, undoubtedly your world is filled with extreme happiness and joy. But this joyous feeling is not the same for all. Apart from your after-delivery bodily discomforts, you might find your mood and emotions to be in a swing. You will have all the signs of depression for more than 2 to 3 weeks of your delivery. Such a feeling is known as postpartum depression.

Other than postnatal depression, you might also be faced with a serious but rare mental disorder within 2 to 3 days of your baby’s delivery – a condition known as postpartum psychosis or puerperal psychosis. (In fact, 1 to 2 out of every 1000 births can bring about this mental health condition in new moms after the delivery of the baby).

What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

Psychosis is when you’ve lost touch from reality. And postpartum psychosis, is when you have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other scary mental illness within a few days of your baby’s birth.

Symptoms 

This condition will occur in you suddenly. Your symptoms may vary from the symptoms of the other new mums, but the most common postpartum psychosis symptoms are: 

  • Your feeling of delusion, in which you might feel someone is trying to harm your baby
  • You will have auditory hallucinations, in which you will get to hear suggestions to either harm yourself or your baby. 
  • You will feel irritated, anxious, confused and extremely depressed
  • You can feel hyperactive or highly energised
  • You’ll feel very suspicious about everything around you
  • You’ll feel disconnected with your new-born 
  • You may have a feeling of disorientation – whether it is the place or time 
  • You may experience severe insomnia

Reasons For Such Mental Ill-health

There is apparently nothing proven about the postpartum psychosis causes, but some clarifications do exist. And they are: 

  • Your after-delivery hormonal changes like the fluctuation of oestrogen, progesterone, andor thyroid hormones 
  • If you previously had episodes of psychosis or someone in your family earlier had mental health issues
  • If you have a history of bipolar disorder
  • If this is your first baby
  • If you had huge mood swings during your pregnancy days 
  • Your environmental or biological factors 
  • If you’ve taken psychiatric medicines during the pregnancy days, and stopped them for some reason
  • If you’ve been feeling sleep – deprived
  • If you had a traumatic childbirth 
  • If you’ve given birth to subsequent babies. 

Treatment of Postpartum Psychosis

Management of this condition involves a combination of treatments and therapies. Some of them are:

  • You need to be hospitalised for your own safety. Therefore, you should make your partner and other members in your family aware of this condition since your pregnancy days. After a week or two of your baby’s birth, if your loved ones think you have postpartum psychosis symptoms, they can call the medical emergency immediately. And hospitalisation is required till such time that your symptoms are relieved and your mood is stable.
  • You’ll be given medicines like lithium to stabilise your mood, reduce your hallucination, panic attacks, improve the hormonal imbalances and lower your risk of further complications. Some of the antidepressants are also recommended to relieve the signs of anxiety, sadness and to keep you away from the intention of harming yourself and your baby.
  • But in case the other treatments have failed to give you a sense of relief, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is often found to be an effective postpartum psychosis treatment method. (Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an invasive form of brain stimulation that has been used earlier in cases of major depression and bipolar disorder).  
  • You can also manage your stress and anxiety by talking things out – maybe with the help of a support group or with a specialist. 

Prevention

Make sure that your healthcare provider, during your days of prenatal or postnatal care not just looks into your pregnancy or postpartum related physical and medical issues, but also looks into your entire bio-psycho-social model. 

The doctors will prefer quick screening methods to identify your signs at an early stage of your postpartum and will guide you with the right postpartum nutrition and physical activity.

With proper treatment, you might recover from postpartum psychosis within 2 to 12 weeks. However, some of you may need 6 to 12 months’ time more, but very soon, you will feel like yourself again and shower your little one with lots of love and care.

You can also visit the blog page of Cordlife India, to understand more about childbirth, parenting, pregnancy and cord blood banking.

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