What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

Postpartum Psychosis is a rare, but also very serious, mental health disorder.

About 1-2 women in 1000 will experience postpartum psychosis, and it’s important that more women and their support systems learn what to watch for so that every woman can receive the care that they need.

Here is a list of some (but not all) symptoms. These can come and go, so please don’t assume that you or someone you love will “get better” if these show up and then stop for hours or even days. Immediate treatment is VITAL. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Mom not being connected to reality (she’s in the room with you, but also it feels like she’s not aware of you or she’s believing in things that aren’t real)
  • Mom seeing or hearing things that others don’t
  • Mom feeling suddenly suspicious of friends or family members
  • Mom forgetting how to do things that were once simple for her (like following a recipe or driving to the grocery store)
  • Mom suddenly believing she is very special, wise or connected to a higher level of understanding.
  • Mom having lots and lots of energy
  • Quickly changing moods- big ups and downs.
  • Mom has strange physical experiences, describing a feeling of unseen things scratching, crawling or biting her.

What should you or your support system do if you feel you may be experiencing PostPartum Psychosis? Call a friend or family member to be with you and find a same-day appointment with a physician, or go to the emergency room.

Why is it so important to seek immediate help? Because women who are suffering from postpartum psychosis can hurt themselves or their baby.

While this sounds frightening, I also want to point out again that this condition is treatable, and that there are many women who have had postpartum psychosis (PPP) and are fully recovered. For more information on PPP and to hear stories of women who have experienced PPP, you can visit www.app-network.org

Factors that increase the risk of someone developing this mental health disorder include family history, previous diagnosis or experience of Bipolar disorders, suddenly stopping mental health mood stabilizing medications, and sleep deprivation.

I want the symptoms of PPP to become much more widely known. Just like I feel we all benefit from understanding the symptoms of a heart attack or asthma attack so we can support the person in getting the medical attention they need, awareness around PPP symptoms can help us support our families and others. Help increase awareness mamas! Warmly, Jenny Schermerhorn, Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate.

This article is not meant to take the place of a relationship with a trained mental health therapist, or a medical professional. It is not meant to provide diagnosis of a mental health disorder. If you are experiencing a physical or mental health emergency, please dial 9-1-1.

One thought on “What Is Postpartum Psychosis?

  1. Thank you for this important & excellent blog post, Jenny!

    As a perinatal mental health advocate, I encourage women and health professionals to educate themselves about all the perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADS). Some PMADS remain obscure and that needs to change and it will change. Blogggers like you are helping do just that! :)))

    Apart from postpartum psychosis, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety, there are three other primary PMADS which are listed on Postpartum Support International’s website:


    I was diagnosed with the PMAD of bipolar, peripartum onset (postpartum bipolar), a.k.a. childbirth-triggered bipolar.

    Teresa Twomey is the author of “Understanding Postpartum Psychosis: A Temporary Madness ” and a brilliant postpartum psychosis advocate. She says,

    “We often associate bipolar disorder (pre-existing or postpartum onset/diagnosis) with postpartum psychosis. Most women with postpartum psychosis may have an underlying bipolar disorder; not all of those with bipolar have psychosis, and not all of those with psychosis have bipolar.”

    If you’d like a free PDF of my book, feel free to email me: dyane@baymoon.com and I’ll send you a copy.

    For “Birth of a New Brain” info. and reviews, visit my book’s Amazon page at:

    Take good care!

    Dyane Harwood
    Member, Postpartum Support International, International Society of Bipolar Disorders
    Author, “Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder”
    Foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw

    The PsychCentral Show Podcast postpartum bipolar episodehttps://psychcentral.com/blog/tpcs-podcast-what-is-postpartum-bipolar-disorder/


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