Medical Definition of Postpartum psychosis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Postpartum psychosis: A very serious mental illness that can affect a new mother. The episode of psychosis usually begins within 1 to 3 months of delivery. A woman with postpartum psychosis may lose touch with reality and have auditory hallucinations (hearing things that are not actually happening, like a person talking) and delusions (perceiving things differently from the way they are). Visual hallucinations ((seeing things that are not there) are less common. Other symptoms may include insomnia, agitation, anger, and irrational guilt about somehow having done something wrong. Women who have postpartum psychosis need prompt treatment and almost always need medication. If they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else, women with postpartum psychosis need to be in a hospital.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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