PTSD and Postpartum psychosis

Updated: Jul 7

It's natural to feel strong emotions during pregnancy and in your fourth trimester. The majority of women experience the Baby Blues but some get depression, PTSD or sometimes, postpartum psychosis. In these cases, it's important to get treatment. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can feel better.

Post-traumatic stressdisorder

Some people who feel mentally unstable after giving birth might be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. It can be caused by a traumatic birth or previous traumatic experiences. If you feel severe anxiety at the thought of your birthing experience or relive the event with flashbacks and nightmares, get support. Treatments for PTSD can also help with depression.

Postpartum psychosis

In some cases, depression can lead to a psychosis. Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious form of psychosis. Someone with postpartum psychosis may even commit suicide or harm their child. It usually occurs between two weeks to three months after the baby is born.

If you have the following symptoms, you may have psychosis:

  • Delusions. You perceive your life to be changed or different. For example, you may feel persecuted or singled out.

  • You hear voices or sounds that no one else hears.

  • Thought disorder. Your thoughts become incoherent and you easily lose focus.

  • One moment everything feels normal. The next moment you may say strange things and be difficult to connect with.

Before psychosis, it's common to have trouble sleeping, feel depressed or very upset. You are at greater risk of developing psychosis if you have a history of postpartum psychosis or bipolar disorder.

Getting help

Seek help directly at a psychiatric emergency room, an emergency room at your local hospital, or call the number for emergency medical care in your country if you or someone else has symptoms of postpartum psychosis.

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