What are the symptomsof postpartum psychosis?

Most women with postpartum psychosis will experience psychosis (a 'psychotic episode') and other symptoms very soon after giving birth, usually within the first two weeks.

Some women develop symptoms later than this sometimes at the time they stop breastfeeding, or when their periods restart.


Psychosis causes people to perceive or interpret things differently from those around them. The two main symptoms are:

  • hallucinations usually hearing or seeing things that aren't there; a common hallucination is hearing voices
  • delusions thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true (for example believing you've won the lottery)

The combination of hallucinations and delusional thinking can severely disrupt her perception, thinking, emotions and behaviour.

Other symptoms

A woman with postpartum psychosis may also behave in a way that is out of character, and may experience:

  • a high mood (mania) she may talk and think too much or too quickly, feel 'on top of the world', or be more sociable than normal
  • a loss of inhibitions
  • paranoia , feeling suspicious or fearful
  • restlessness or agitation
  • a low mood she may show signs of depression and be withdrawn or tearful, with a lack of energy, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability or trouble sleeping
  • severe confusion

Her mood may change rapidly. Some affected women experience symptoms of mania and depression at the same time.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 21 Dec 2018