Postpartum Psychosis (PPP) is a very rare illness compared to the rates of PPD & PPA. It occurs 1-2 out of every 1,000 deliveries or approximately 0.1% of births. Onset of PPP is sudden and occurs within 2 weeks postpartum.
Symptoms include the following:
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for or inability to sleep
- Paranoia & suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
The most significant risk factors for postpartum psychosis are a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, or a previous psychotic episode.
Of the women who develop a postpartum psychosis, research has suggested that there is approximately a 5% suicide rate and a 4% infanticide rate associated with the illness. This is because the woman experiencing psychosis is experiencing a break from reality. In her psychotic state, the delusions and beliefs make sense to her; they feel very real to her and are often religious. Immediate treatment for a woman going through psychosis is imperative.
It is also important to know that many survivors of postpartum psychosis never had delusions containing violent commands. Delusions take many forms, and not all of them are destructive. Most women who experience postpartum psychosis do not harm themselves or anyone else. However, there is always the risk of danger because psychosis includes delusional thinking and irrational judgment, and this is why women with this illness must be quickly assessed, treated, and carefully monitored by a trained healthcare perinatal mental health professional.
If you feel you or someone you know may be suffering from this illness, know that it is not your fault and you are not to blame. Call your doctor or a PSI emergency crisis hotline right away so that you can get the help you need.
For more information, support, and resources please visit Postpartum Support International at www.postpartum.net or call them at 1-800-944-4773(4PPD).