What is Postnatal Psychosis?

Postnatal Psychosis is much less common than Baby Blues or Postnatal Depression. It occurs in about 1 in every 1000 women (0.1%) who have a baby.

Postpartum Psychosis (PP) is a severe, but treatable, form of mental illness that occurs after having a baby. It can happen ‘out of the blue’ to women without previous experience of mental illness. PP is sometimes called puerperal psychosis.

There are some groups of women, women with a history of bipolar disorder for example, who are at much higher risk. PP normally begins in the first few days to weeks after childbirth. It can get worse very quickly and should always be treated as a medical emergency. Most women need to be treated with medication and admitted to hospital

Postpartum psychosis can be an overwhelming and frightening experience for you and your loved ones, and it's important to seek help as soon as possible. With the right support, most women fully recover.

Common Signs & Symptoms

There are a large variety of symptoms that women with Postnatal Psychosis can experience.


Women may be:
• Excited, elated, or ‘high’.
• Depressed, anxious, or confused.
• Excessively irritable or changeable in mood


Postpartum Psychosis includes one or more of the following:
• Strange beliefs that could not be true (delusions).
• Hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations).
• High mood with loss of touch with reality (mania).
• Severe confusion.


These are also common symptoms:
• Being more talkative, sociable, on the phone an excessive amount.
• Having a very busy mind or racing thoughts.
• Feeling very energetic and like ‘super-mum’ or agitated and restless.
• Having trouble sleeping, or not feeling the need to sleep.
• Behaving in a way that is out of character or out of control.
• Feeling paranoid or suspicious of people’s motives.
• Feeling that things are connected in special ways or that stories on the TV or radio have special personal meaning.
• Feeling that the baby is connected to God or the Devil in some way.


Your doctor may decide that treating you in hospital is the best way to get you the help you need. If it's possible, you should be admitted to a mother and baby unit (MBU), where you can stay with your baby while getting treatment. 


You are most likely to be offered an antipsychotic drug to manage your mood and psychotic symptoms.  You may also be offered an antidepressant.

If your symptoms are very severe, and don't respond to other treatments, your doctor may offer you electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

If you believe you may have Postnatal Psychosis is is crucial that you receive urgent medical care, arrange to see your GP the same day or if this isn't possible ring 111

© 2016 Nurture the Borders C.I.C

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