What can be said about puerperal psychosis?
As the name suggests, this is something entirely different from postnatal depression.
There is a change in the mental state and the new mother has wildly swinging moods, being euphoric one moment and in the depth of depression the next.
It is important to realize that the baby is at risk and even though he or she should ideally be kept with the mother, this should be coupled with adequate continuous vigilance to ensure he or she is not harmed by the mother. There are tragic experiences of such mothers strangling their babies.
Another potential problem not to be taken lightly is that of contraception. Because of mood swings, these patients are particularly prone to unprotected sex. This could easily lead to unplanned - and, in most cases, unwanted - pregnancy. This could complicate the picture enormously. It is therefore essential to ensure this aspect is addressed in the overall management strategy. The partner has a crucial role to play in this.
Where will a mother diagnosed as having postnatal psychosis be treated?
It is unusual to manage this condition at home. Hospital admission is almost always required and this could be in the psychiatric ward where the medical experts are based. Medication will be continued for as long as necessary. Almost all such patients make a full recovery.
Can postnatal psychosis recur in a subsequent pregnancy?
Yes. There is slight increase in risk of a recurrence. There are no known effective measures to reduce this risk.
Last update: February 19, 2013