If you look on social media, you’ll see plenty of mothers showing how “perfect” their lives are with their babies and children. But smiles and cuddles don’t always show the whole truth.
While most of us know that having a baby comes with physical consequences for the mother, not all are aware that it can impact a woman’s mental health too, and, in rare cases, can lead to severe episodes of illness known as postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum psychosis is rarely talked about. When it appears in the news it is usually because it was not spotted in time or because, on rare and tragic occasions, a new mother has committed suicide or harmed their baby. It isn’t very often that mothers speak out about their experiences.
But, despite this lack of coverage, it is more common than you might think. This severe episode of mental illness affects one to two mothers in every 1000 births. It has a clear onset, days or weeks after childbirth. Symptoms during an episode are acute, and can change rapidly, within days or even hours. They may include high or low mood, confusion, abnormal beliefs, and hearing or seeing things that are not there. They are very different from the “baby blues” or postpartum depression.
Causes and circumstances