Emotional Health · Parenting

Postpartum psychosis – A treatable illness

Psychologist comforting a patient who looks depressed

As a Public Health Nurse supporting new parents after the birth of their baby, I’m worried when I hear phrases like “I think someone is trying to take my baby; I just can’t settle down; I haven’t slept in 48 hours; my mother shakes my baby when she’s holding her; I’m a bad mother and don’t deserve this baby”.

Postpartum psychosis (PPP) is when a new parent:

  • loses touch with reality
  • starts to see, hear, and believe things that aren’t true
  • may have thoughts of suicide and/or thoughts harming their baby
  • behaviour is out of character

This usually happens within 72 hours to four weeks after birth.  It’s rare, and happens in only 1 to 2 in every 1000 births.

Contact your doctor, visit the nearest emergency department or call 911 if you notice any of these signs.

Causes of PPP are not clear, risks may include:

  • a history of bipolar disorder
  • a family history of psychosis
  • psychosis in an earlier pregnancy
  • a traumatic birth or pregnancy

It’s important to:

  • talk about your feelings
  • not be ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help
  • take help offered from your family and friends

Not recognizing and getting help for PPP can be very dangerous for both you and your baby. Postpartum psychosis is a medical emergency!  Find out where to get immediate help in Toronto

Remember, PPP is temporary and responds very well to treatment.  Those who experience it usually have a full recovery within 6 to 12 months with proper treatment and support.

Video: Identification and Awareness

For more information or to speak to a Public Health Nurse call (416) 338-7600 or via eChat.

Leave a Reply