Postpartum Psychosis

WellMama Resource Guide: Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a rare mental illness caused by extreme biochemical imbalance following childbirth. One or two in a thousand women will develop postpartum psychosis in the U.S. alone. In 2010, there were approximately 4 million births, meaning that 4,000 to 8,000 women experience postpartum psychosis each year.

Postpartum psychosis is considered to be a mental health emergency. Although temporary and treatable, women must receive immediate help. As a result of the break with reality, those with postpartum psychosis must be monitored and treated by a trained healthcare professional.  After initial treatment, women may move into severe depression, which requires ongoing help and follow up.

WellMama provides a variety of support to women and their families struggling with birth trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder, and pregnancy or postpartum anxiety and mood disorders. Those struggling with these emotions are welcome to call our hotline at 1-800-896-0410 to participate in our Mama-to-Mama Peer Support Program or attend one of our weekly support groups.

This section of the WellMama Resource Guide will focus on postpartum psychosis. If you would like to contribute to the WellMama Resource Guide, please email resource guide volunteer Mandy Lindgren.

Empty crib in white roomLearn about Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a rare mental illness caused by extreme biochemical imbalance following childbirth. One or two in a thousand women will develop postpartum psychosis in the U.S. alone. In 2010, there were approximately 4 million births (Center for Disease Control 2012), meaning that 4,000 to 8,000 women experience postpartum psychosis each year. Of the women who develop a postpartum psychosis, there is a 5% infanticide or suicide rate associated with the illness (Postpartum Support International 2010).

Blog Post: Janet’s Story

Janet had been waiting years for a baby. Her first three pregnancies had resulted in early miscarriage. Finally, she was pregnant for the fourth time and had only a few weeks before the baby was due. No one could have wanted a baby as badly as she did. But the last thirty-five weeks of waiting had been more stressful than she could have ever imagined. In her mind, she kept thinking that something was going to go wrong. Surely she’d loose this baby just as she had lost each of her previous pregnancies. So she made a conscious effort not to let herself get attached to the baby growing inside of her.

External Resources

Postpartum Support International increase awareness among public and professional communities about the emotional changes that women experience during pregnancy and postpartum.