What's the difference between post partum psychosis and general psychosis?

I had a psychotic episode in 2008 which was very serious and ended up in psychiatric hospital for 3 months. I've had relapses since but nothing like that first time when I was totally out of control over my thoughts and actions. My youngest was 3 years old at the time. 5 years later and now I'm 7 weeks pregnant and I've only just started hearing about pp psychosis and I'm beginning to get worried as I had post natal depression straight after my youngest was born. Is there any difference between pp psychosis and regular psychosis? I have bipolar by the way.

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  • Hi smiles, I'm not sure on the medical definitions but from what I've read about PP risk factors you would be in the "high risk" category for getting PP. your midwife ought to refer you to a specialist perinatal psychiatry team... But don't think that it's at all inevitable - you are thinking ahead and with a good care plan and team in place I'm sure you will be fine!

  • I've got my first appointment with the midwife next week and my gp has already referred me to the nearest mental health team for an assessment and then they should pass me onto mother and infant mental health. Could my midwife refer me though? I'm led to believe that only my gp could do that. Still don't know what exactly pp is. I need to look it up I think.

  • Hi there, postpartum psychosis is a pschotic episode after childbirth. As you will see from many of the posts on here, one of the characteristics seems to be that it often comes completely out of the blue, affecting women who have no previous history of such problems. Although it can also affect women who have had such experience before, and as the previous response said, i think you would be at a higher risk due to your experience. From my personal point of view, the trauma of it coming totally unexpected, didn't even know it could happen etc. after childbirth was the worst thing and has taken far more to recover from than the pschosis itself. I think overall that being aware of it, that it can happen, but having a plan in place & good, careful monitoring etc.is the best position to be in. Not that it will completely remove the problem should it happen but at least being in an informed position will help greatly I think. But, that doesn't mean to say that it will happen so fingers crossed and very good luck to you. Xx

  • Ok so it's a normal psychotic episode but it's called pp if it follows childbirth. My episode happened out of the blue. I went from relatively normal to psychotic within a week. My relapses also went like that. From being capable of working well to not being able to function normally within a few days. I know my symptoms by now so I know what I need to do if it should start to happen again.

  • Hi Smiles1975,

    That's a really good question as it is very confusing & there're some great comments above, thank you. Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy! Well done for seeking answers to your questions. Yes if you have a Bipolar diagnosis you're classed as high risk of PP, so it's really great you're prepared if something does happen. I think for many people PP is their first & sometimes only episode, although others go on to have further episodes & are then diagnosed with Bipolar. I believe that episodes after childbirth tend to be more severe & have a more rapid onset than at any other time (but please don't quote me on that as I'm certainly no expert). Also there's obviously baby care & recovery from childbirth to factor in too. As you say, you know your symptoms so you know what you need to do if anything does happen. With preparation & a good care plan in place, I'm sure all will go smoothly.

    There's a guide for women with bipolar here with lots of info that should help: app-network.org/wp-content/...

    Have a look at this article 'Pregnancy for bipolar women': app-network.org/wp-content/...

    Also there's this 'Pregnancy & Bipolar' podcast, just click on the 'Download button: rcpsych.ac.uk/press/podcast...

    It's good that you've been referred to a mental health team. I'm not sure who normally does the referral, I think in my area it's GPs. The main thing though is that you've been referred & will be assessed. What area are you in & do you know if there's a Mother & Baby Unit near you? (There's a map here: app-network.org/what-is-pp/... )

    Sorry, there's lots of info here to plough through but I hope it helps to just read through it in your own time. Let us know how you get on at your assessment & if things are any clearer for you. If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to find the answers to them. Take care & all the best.

  • I've noticed that the link to the 'Pregnancy & Bipolar' podcast is broken. I've notified them so hopefully they'll fix it soon.

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