Puerperal psychosis, also known as postpartum psychosis or postnatal psychosis, is a serious mental illness that affects women who have never had a previous history of mental health issues but are predisposed to them. It typically develops after childbirth.
There are three categories of postpartum mental disorders:
- Baby Blues: Some women may experience baby blues in the first few weeks after giving birth. This is considered a normal experience, rather than a medical illness. Symptoms may include depression, confusion, crying spells, irritability, mood swings, sadness, anxiety, loss of appetite, and sleep disturbance.
- Postpartum Depression: Postpartum depression refers to a non-psychotic mood disorder and falls in the middle range of severity between baby blues and postpartum psychosis. Symptoms include a sad mood, tearfulness, loss of interest, feelings of guilt, sleep disturbance, and poor concentration.
- Postpartum Psychosis: Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric disorder related to the care of women after giving birth. It is the most severe form of postpartum mental illness.
Causes of Puerperal Psychosis:
- Sleep disturbance
- Obstetrical factors
- Hormonal influences
- Social factors
Signs and Symptoms of Puerperal Psychosis:
- Insomnia: Insomnia is a common symptom of puerperal psychosis, which refers to difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. This can result in feeling tired and exhausted, which can have a negative impact on overall mental and physical health.
- Refusal to eat is another symptom of puerperal psychosis. This can be due to loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and weight loss. It is important to monitor the patient’s food intake and ensure they are eating a balanced diet to maintain their health.
- Hallucinations: Hallucinations are a severe symptom of puerperal psychosis, in which the patient sees, hears, feels, tastes or smells things that are not actually there. This can be a frightening experience and can cause fear and anxiety.
- Irritability: Highly irritable is another symptom of puerperal psychosis. The patient may feel easily frustrated and may lash out at others, even over small things. This can cause difficulties in personal relationships and make it hard for the patient to function normally.
- Agitation: Agitation is another symptom of puerperal psychosis, in which the patient may feel restless, fidgety, and unable to sit still. This can lead to difficulty sleeping and increase feelings of anxiety and irritability.
- Suspiciousness: Suspiciousness is a symptom of puerperal psychosis in which the patient may feel distrustful and may believe that others are out to harm them. This can cause difficulties in personal relationships and make it difficult for the patient to trust others.
- Paranoia: Paranoid is a symptom of puerperal psychosis in which the patient may have intense feelings of suspicion and distrust, causing them to believe that others are plotting against them. This can cause difficulty in personal relationships and lead to social isolation.
- Suicidal thoughts: Suicidal tendency is a serious symptom of puerperal psychosis, in which the patient may feel hopeless and helpless and may have thoughts of harming themselves. This requires close monitoring and immediate intervention to ensure the patient’s safety.
- Attempts to harm the baby: Trying to harm the baby is a severe symptom of puerperal psychosis, in which the patient may have thoughts or actions of harming their baby. This requires immediate intervention to ensure the safety of the baby.
- Lack of interest in the baby: Lack of interest in the baby is a symptom of puerperal psychosis, in which the patient may feel indifferent or uninterested in their baby. This can be a concerning symptom as it can affect the bonding between the mother and baby and may require intervention from healthcare professionals.
Management of Puerperal Psychosis:
Effective treatment for puerperal psychosis involves a holistic, multidisciplinary approach. This may include:
- Assessment and admission
- Good communication channels
- A sleep schedule.
- Monitoring for suicidal thoughts and use of a suicide caution card
- Involvement of family members in the patient’s care
- Maintaining daily activities
- A balanced diet
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Taking prescribed medications
- Avoiding stressful situations
- Getting adequate rest and sleep.