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Black Maternal Health Week: What is Postpartum Psychosis?




Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin


(Mind Journal, 2023)


Bringing a new life into the world can be an exhilarating experience, but for some new mothers, it can also trigger unexpected mental health challenges. One such challenge is postpartum psychosis, a severe condition that affects around 1 in 1,000 mothers soon after giving birth.

What is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental health illness that typically emerges within the first two weeks after childbirth, although it can develop later (Mind Journal, 2023). Unlike the typical "baby blues," which involve mild mood changes and usually dissipate after a few days, postpartum psychosis is marked by intense symptoms that require urgent medical attention (Mind Journal, 2023).


Recognizing the Symptoms

The symptoms of postpartum psychosis can vary but may include:

  • Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren't real.

  • Delusions: Holding beliefs that are unlikely to be true.

  • Mania: Feeling extremely high or overactive.

  • Low mood: Signs of depression, such as tearfulness, lack of energy, or changes in appetite.

  • Confusion: Difficulty concentrating or making sense of things (Mind Journal, 2023).


Other symptoms include:

  • Fear

  • Hyperactivity

  • Illogical thoughts

  • Insomnia

  • Depression or extreme sadness

  • Odd or uncharacteristic behavior

  • Paranoia

  • Poor judgment

  • Restlessness

  • Severe mood swings

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Violence

  • Acting distant and withdrawn

  • Aggressiveness

  • Agitation

  • Anxiety (Murray, 2022)


Seeking Medical Help

Postpartum psychosis should be treated as a medical emergency due to its rapid onset and potential risks to both the mother and baby. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, seeking help is vital (Murray, 2022).


Treatment and Support

Treatment for postpartum psychosis typically involves hospitalization, where medications like antipsychotics and mood stabilizers may be prescribed (Mind Journal, 2023).. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and psychological therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), may also be recommended (Mind Journal, 2023).


Preventing Postpartum Psychosis

The cause of postpartum psychosis remains unclear; however, certain factors, such as a history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, can increase the risk. However, early intervention and support can help mitigate these risks, especially for high-risk people (Murray, 2022).


Recovery and Support

Recovering from postpartum psychosis can take time, and the journey may involve periods of depression, anxiety, or low confidence (Mind Journal, 2023). However, most individuals fully recover with the right treatment and support (Mind Journal, 2023). Support groups, charities, and peer networks can provide invaluable assistance during this process.


Reflection

Postpartum psychosis is a challenging condition, but it's essential to remember that help is available. By raising awareness, providing support, and promoting early intervention, we can ensure that every mother receives the care and assistance she needs to navigate this difficult journey.


**If you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum psychosis, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Remember, you're not alone, and help is always within reach.

References

Mind Journal. (2023, September 19). Is postpartum psychosis a rare and severe mental disorder? Mind Help. https://mind.help/topic/postpartum-psychosis/


Murray, D. (2022, July 25). Understanding postpartum psychosis. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/postpartum-psychosis-4770119




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