Psychosis is a severe mental illness that is often described as a "loss of touch with reality". If the first episode of psychosis occurs shortly after a birth, then it is termed as postpartum psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is far less common than depression and occurs in 1-2 per 1000 mothers. Psychosis may be mild, or if severe, may incapacitate a mother leaving her unable to care for herself or her baby.
The symptoms of postpartum psychosis include:
What causes postpartum psychosis?
There is no single cause. The changing hormone levels are probably the main cause. Women who have a pre-existing serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, are at higher risk. Other possible reasons or contributing factors include a lack of social and emotional support. Stress also plays a role.
Treating Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is considered to be a mental health emergency and therefore requires immediate attention. Women who suffer from the postpartum psychosis are not always able or willing to speak with someone about their problems. Family members need to be understanding and should care for the mother.
The condition is treated with medications. If a woman is thought to pose a threat to herself or others, she will likely be hospitalized for a short time. Many women can also benefit from psychological counseling in addition to medication. With proper care, most women are able to recover from their disorder.