What are the common signs and symptoms?
|How you might feel
||How you might behave
- excited or elated
- severely depressed
- rapid mood changes
- confused or disorientated
What are delusions and hallucinations?
Delusions and hallucinations are aspects of psychosis.
A delusion is a significantly unusual belief that other people don't share. For example, you might believe that you are related to someone famous, although you don't share any relatives, or you may believe you are able to control the weather. Some delusions can be very frightening – for example, if you believe that someone is trying to control you or kill you. These sorts of delusions are often called paranoid thinking or paranoia. See our pages on paranoia for more information.
Hallucinations are when you see or hear things, or experience tastes, smells and sensations, that people around you don't. For example, you might see objects move in ways they normally wouldn't, or hear voices that other people don't. See our pages on hearing voices for more information.
For more general information, see our pages on psychosis.
What causes postpartum psychosis?
There is no clear evidence on what causes postpartum psychosis, but there are some risk factors. You are more likely to develop postpartum psychosis if:
- You have a family history of mental health problems, particularly a family history of postpartum psychosis.
- You have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Although postpartum psychosis occurs in around 1 in 1,000 births, for women with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder this rises to around 1 in 4 births.
- You have a traumatic birth or pregnancy.
However, you can also develop postpartum psychosis if you have no history of mental health problems at all.
It is slightly more common in first rather than later pregnancies.
If you are at a higher risk of developing postpartum psychosis, it's important to discuss your mental health with your midwife or doctor, and think about how you can plan ahead. Action Postpartum Psychosis has a guide on planning pregnancy for women at high risk of developing postpartum psychosis.
What are the treatments?
You are most likely to be offered an antipsychotic drug to manage your mood and psychotic symptoms. See our pages on antipsychotics and our antipsychotics A-Z for more information about these drugs. 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). See our pages on ECT for more information and your rights around treatment.
Will I have to go into hospital?
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. See our page on support and services for more information.