What Is Postpartum Psychosis? An Expert Weighs In

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Women have a wide range of experiences following the birth of their babies. While some may simply feel a tad more weepy than usual, others suffer from full-fledged postpartum depression, and still others are diagnosed with an even more serious condition called postpartum psychosis. If you've never heard of it, you're not alone — many women don't even know it exists. So what is postpartum psychosis, and how do you know if you have it?

According to Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Jaime Filler, who specializes in maternal mental health in Atlanta, only one or two out of every thousand women will experience postpartum psychosis, making it a much more rare condition than postpartum depression (which affects one in seven new mothers). Postpartum psychosis symptoms, Filler tells Romper in an exclusive interview, usually begin the first two weeks after delivery.

So what are the symptoms to look for? According to Filler, "If a woman is suffering from postpartum psychosis, she may experience delusions, hallucinations, insomnia, confusion, disorientation, lack of self-care, bizarre behaviors, and rapid mood swings. Often symptoms will come and go, so a mother can appear normal for a period of time in-between her experiences of psychotic symptoms."

Ashley Batz/Romper

How serious is it? Unfortunately, it can be a matter of life or death. Filler says, "When a woman is experiencing postpartum psychosis, there is an absence of logical thought, which makes it impossible for her to determine right from wrong. Unfortunately, left untreated, postpartum psychosis can lead to devastating consequences such as infanticide or suicide."

Postpartum depression is bad enough, but postpartum psychosis is even more dangerous. If you or someone you know is exhibiting the aforementioned symptoms, seek professional help quickly, whether from your OB-GYN or a mental health provider. Moms, take care of yourself, for the sake of your baby and you.