In a new study published in PLoS Medicine, Unnur Valdimarsdóttir and colleagues investigated the clinical incidence of postpartum psychosis and its risk factors in a large study of first-time Swedish mothers. They studied first-time moms in the first 90 days after the birth who were experiencing psychosis for the first time in their lives in order to find out what might contribute to the illness other than previous history of psychotic episodes, which is already well known as a risk factor.

They found that the incidence of psychotic illness peaks immediately following a first childbirth, and almost 50% of the cases of postpartum psychosis were women without any previous psychiatric hospitalization.

They also found that, among women without any previous psychiatric hospitalization, those who had their babies at the age of 35 or older had a higher risk of getting postpartum psychosis.

Additionally, they found that most of the psychosis cases appeared in the first month after chilbirth, with 32% of the cases being hospitalized within 7 days after birth, and 59% hospitalized within 14 days, reinforcing the fact that postpartum psychosis usually has sudden onset.

Postpartum psychosis is a dangerous perinatal mood disorderand can feature the following symptoms:

  • Mania
  • Hallucinations (seeing and hearing things others don’t)
  • Delusions
  • Feeling paranoid and/or distrustful of those around you
  • Periods of confusion, difficulty communicating and/or memory loss

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