What is it?

Postpartum psychosis is a reversible- but severe- mental health condition that affects people after they give birth. This condition is rare, but it’s also dangerous

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Postpartum psychosis

Signs & symptoms

The two main symptoms of psychosis affect a person’s sense of reality and how they understand the world around them. They are:
* Hallucinations- A hallucination is when your brain acts as if it’s getting input from your senses (usually your eyes or ears, but occasionally touch hallucinations can happen, too), but without any actual input. The things you see or hear feel real, and you can’t tell the difference between a hallucination and something that’s truly happening.
* Delusions- Delusions are false beliefs that you hold onto very strongly. If you have a delusion, you hold these beliefs so strongly that you won’t change them even if you have convincing evidence that what you believe isn’t true. Examples include persecutory delusions (believing someone is out to get you), control delusions (feeling that someone else is controlling your body) or somatic delusions (insisting you didn’t have a child or weren’t pregnant).

Other symptoms that are common with postpartum psychosis include:
* Mood changes, such as mania (an increase in activity and mood) and hypomania, or depression (a decrease in mood).
* Depersonalization (some people describe this as an out-of-body experience).
* Disorganized thinking or behavior.
* Insomnia.
* Irritability or agitation.
* Thoughts of self-harm or harming others (especially their newborn).


A mental health provider can diagnose postpartum psychosis based on your symptoms (either by observation or what you describe) and a physical and neurological exam. Other tests are possible, but these are to rule out other conditions or underlying causes of psychosis. These tests can’t diagnose PPP itself. Some of the most common tests include:
* Tests on blood, urine or other body fluids
* Imaging scans- These tests look for changes in your brain structure that might explain your symptoms. The most common imaging scans for this are computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans.

Your doctor may also use specialized screening tools or questionnaires. These are lists of questions or symptom checklists. Depending on the results of these tools, your provider can determine if you’re likely to have a condition.


Postpartum psychosis is treatable, and a few different approaches may work. Unfortunately, the rarity of this condition means there's limited available research on how to treat it. Some methods are in widespread use, but more research is necessary for experts to understand how best to treat this condition. Because PPP is a mental health emergency, people with this condition need inpatient mental healthcare. This kind of care means trained medical professionals are with them at all times to make sure they’re safe and as comfortable as possible.

Involuntary hospitalization
Because PPP disrupts a person’s sense of reality, many people who have it are completely unaware that they have a mental health or medical issue. Further complicating this is the fact that delusions and hallucinations may actually make them afraid to seek help.
For those reasons, inpatient mental healthcare for PPP is almost always involuntary. That means the person with PPP is rarely the one who chooses to receive care. Instead, family members, friends or other loved ones must decide to have their loved one hospitalized. This is only an option when there’s reason to believe a person could be a danger to themselves or others.

Treatment methods
The possible treatment methods include:
* Medications.
* Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

Learn more about our editorial process for content accuracy.

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