Postpartum psychosis is a rare, severe, and dangerous form of
postpartum depression that can suddenly occur within the first 3 weeks
following childbirth. A woman who has postpartum psychosis may feel detached from
her baby and other people. Or she may have hallucinations involving smell, touch, sight,
or hearing. She may have thoughts not based in reality (delusions), display bizarre
behavior, or have urges to kill herself and her child or children.
Postpartum psychosis is most likely to affect women who have
bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depression, or who have had postpartum
psychosis before. It is possible for a woman who has postpartum psychosis to hide
her symptoms from people close to her, though not indefinitely. Untreated
postpartum psychosis can get worse rapidly and lead to dangerous, irrational
behavior that a woman cannot control.
Postpartum psychosis is considered a psychiatric emergency
requiring immediate hospitalization and treatment.
March 8, 2012
Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
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