The postpartum period is a unique, often joyous time in the life of a new mother. However, it can also be a difficult and emotionally draining experience – especially if postpartum psychotic breakdowns are part of the equation.
Categorized as a severe mental illness, postpartum psychosis (PPP) can have serious implications for both mother and baby, so it’s important to understand what it is and how to recognize its signs.
Postpartum psychosis explained
Postpartum psychosis is also called post-birth psychosis or puerperal psychosis. It is an extreme mental state that some women experience after giving birth. It’s a severe form of postpartum depression that can lead to hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and mood swings that harm the mother and her child.
Postpartum psychosis symptoms
As mentioned above common postpartum mental illness symptoms include:
- Delusions (false beliefs)
- Paranoia (feeling that people are out to get you or harm you)
- Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that aren’t there)
- Disorganized behavior (strange movements or talking nonsensically)
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Confusion or difficulty focusing on tasks
- Uncontrollable crying, anger, agitation and anxiety.
If your loved one experiences any combination of these symptoms shortly after birth—especially if they persist over time—it’s important to consult a doctor right away as she may be suffering from postpartum psychosis.
Such a postpartum mental state typically begins within days but sometimes up to six weeks after delivery and can last anywhere from days to months. While this condition is rare, it’s important to be aware of it so you can properly distinguish between postpartum mental illness symptoms and regular post-birth issues.
Postpartum Manic Episode
One of the most easily recognisable symptoms and the most worrisome in postpartum psychosis is mania. It is an elevated mood or feeling of joy that lasts several hours or even days. Manic episodes are often accompanied by increased energy and decreased need for sleep. They may also involve racing thoughts, impulsive behavior, and heightened senses (e.g., hearing voices).
These symptoms are usually more extreme than typical “baby blues” feelings like irritability or sadness; if you think your loved one may be experiencing them, seek medical help immediately.
Approaching a mother in postpartum mental state
Never approach the mother in a harsh way or blame her for her actions. The best way to start is by asking her how she is feeling. It’s important to remember that the emotions associated with the postpartum period are normal. Most women will go through periods where they feel down or overwhelmed during their first few weeks with a newborn baby.
However, if these feelings don’t go away after a few days—or if they become increasingly intense—it could be an indication that something more serious is going on. In such cases, it’s best to speak with your doctor about your concerns so he or she can evaluate your mental state and provide appropriate treatment options if necessary (e.g., medication).
No matter what stage you’re at in your pregnancy journey – pre-pregnancy planning or already dealing with post-delivery issues – understanding what postpartum psychosis is and knowing how to identify its signs can help ensure you get the care you need when required most during this special but sometimes challenging time in your life as a new parent.
That being said, don’t hesitate to seek professional help should you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by intense emotions during the early weeks after childbirth; doing so could make all the difference in helping manage any potential risks associated with this condition before they become unmanageable.