Melanie's Battle:
The Hidden Plague of Postpartum Psychosis and Depression


Melanie's Story

About Postpartum Psychosis





In Memory
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About Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum Psychosis affects between 1-3 of every one thousand new mothers. This mood disorder affects new mothers indiscriminately. In some cases, the woman that develops postpartum psychosis has no history of depression or other mood disorders. In other cases, a woman may have a latent condition that surfaces as she experiences the hormonal intensity of the postpartum months.

Postpartum Psychosis is a devastating mood disorder that can develop two to four weeks postpartum or immediately after a woman gives birth. Postpartum psychosis causes paranoia, hallucinations (hearing voices urging a new mother to kill herself or her child), severe insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression. A woman suffering from postpartum psychosis often suffers alone because of the shame associated with this illness.

A woman experiencing postpartum psychosis may be in danger of taking her own life or that of her child. This condition is considered a psychiatric emergency and demands an aggressive response, including immediate hospitalization. A woman in the throes of postpartum psychosis may not realize how ill she is. She needs her family and friends to be proactive and help her get the treatment she needs.

It is it critical that pregnant women disclose any history (family or personal) of depression, Bipolar Mood Disorder, or Schizophrenia. This history may increase her risk of developing postpartum depression or psychosis. But by disclosing these risk factors during the pregnancy, she and her physician can work towards an effective treatment plan should a depressive or psychotic incident occur. A woman who has already had an incident of postpartum psychosis increases her risk of a second incident of postpartum psychosis with a subsequent pregnancy by 50 percent.

Learn more about this devastating mood disorder and visit NPR's discussion board.

Learn more about the way that hormonal fluctuations affect women's moods.