Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is not uncommon, and affects around 1 in 500 mothers after giving birth. It's sometimes called puerperal psychosis or postnatal psychosis.


Your chances for postpartum psychosis are higher if you or a member of your family has bipolar disorder. Doctors believe that the big hormonal changes before and after birth may contribute to triggering postpartum psychosis. Your risks increase if:

  • You’re a first time mom,

  • Your pregnancy was unplanned.

  • You have big mood swings while pregnant.

  • You stopped your psychiatric medications during your pregnancy.

Postpartum psychosis usually starts within the first 2 weeks of giving birth, often only a few hours or days after the baby is born.

Symptoms can include:

  • Hallucinations - seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that aren’t there

  • delusions – thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true

  • A manic mood – talking and thinking too much or too quickly, feeling "high" or "on top of the world"

  • A very low mood – showing signs of depression, being withdrawn or tearful, lacking energy, having a loss of appetite, anxiety, agitation or trouble sleeping

  • Sometimes a mixture of both a manic mood and a low mood - or rapidly changing moods

  • Loss of inhibitions

  • Feeling very suspicious or fearful

  • Extreme restlessness

  • Feeling very confused

  • Behaving in a way that's out of character

If you believe you may be experiencing postpartum psychosis, it is really important to seek help immediately. There are treatments available that can make you feel better, but your symptoms may get worse and put you, your baby, or others in danger if you don’t address them. It is not a reflection on your, or anything to be ashamed of - help is available.