Puerperal psychiatric disease is a severe episode of mental illness in a motherfollowing childbirth. It may occur suddenly in the first two weeks of giving birth or much later, and may be caused by hormonal fluctuation, disrupted sleep patterns or genetic factors.
The main symptom of puerperal psychiatric disease is psychosis, which is characterised by hallucination (hearing or seeing things that aren’t really there) and delusions (believing things that are not true). Other symptoms may include mania (high mood), depression (low mood), loss of inhibitions, paranoia (suspicion or fear), restlessness and severe confusion. Puerperal psychiatric disease is a psychiatric emergency and should be treated before it leads to complications such asneglecting or harming the baby or self.Treatment includes antidepressant, antipsychotic and mood stabilising medications.