Warning Signs of Postpartum Psychosis

Depression is a common ailment that can happen to a mother after they have given birth. Postpartum depression can happen anywhere up to twelve months after a baby is born and often begins around the third or fourth month after giving birth, having a miscarriage, an abortion, or a stillbirth. Those that get postpartum can be triggered from trauma that stems from complications during pregnancy, birth, or early parenting. On the other hand, having a history abuse or having a traumatic childhood can trigger postpartum depression for some women.

While being tired is normal with early child rearing, a woman who does not feel like herself anymore can point to postpartum depression.10 percent of women develop postpartum depression which manifests itself through persistent sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy. These feelings can take over a women’s life and make her deem herself as worthless. Without help, these symptoms can persist and turn into a threatening situation called postpartum psychosis. One of the most horrific cases of postpartum psychosis was publicized in 2001 with Andrea Yates drowning all five of her kids in the bathtub while she suffered from depression.

On February 2nd, a St. Louis mother brought postpartum psychosis into the limelight once again when she shot and killed her husband and her 3-month-old daughter, and then turned the gun on herself. Those that were close to her say that she was having a hard time being a first-time mom and juggling her stay-at-home job. Nobody detected the signs of postpartum psychosis and because of her background as a social worker, she believed she could handle the struggles of motherhood without any help.

Postpartum psychosis is rare and develops in 1 in 2,000 women. The main problem with the psychosis is that the women take drastic measures because of what their feelings dictate in them. In many of these cases, fatalities occur because the signs were not discovered fast enough to prevent the dreadful outcome that can occur from postpartum psychosis.

Advocates for postpartum screening are trying to pass a bill in California that would require that women would get checked for postpartum depression during pregnancy and again after giving birth. Doctors then would be able to connect women that are suffering from depression with treatment, medication, and follow ups to help minimize the detrimental effects of postpartum depression. There is no shame in having postpartum depression only regret in treating someone before it is too late.

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