Did anyone have peculiar physical symptoms before the mental symptoms started??

Hi, I had PP 5 years ago after my first son. (I have had a 2nd son and happily it all went perfectly and he is now 2 :). Anyway, I just wondered- no worries if not(!)- if anyone experienced any physical symptoms before getting sick. When I first came out of the hospital after his birth, I was feeling so elated and full of energy (probably start of the hypomania). But by about day 5, or 6, every time I kept feeling I could just faint at any moment (all my muscles would go limp and I felt very odd- can barely describe it- like I could just collapse onto the floor and crash through the floor). And then, every time I breastfed I had a bizarre rush of endorphins, like I had just snorted amphetamine, and like I could just fly off and float away?? As a rational being, I appreciate this sounds odd. I was feeling very happy but I was still myself at this point. I was too embarrassed to tell my husband and family and I think that made things get worse, as I started pretending I was so happy but underneath I started worrying there was physically something really wrong with me. A few days later, when my milk did finally come in, I then totally lost the plot and was delusional.

( I didn't breastfeed with no 2 and just went straight onto olanzapine, as the surge of hormones from breast feeding definitely made me feel like I was buzzing off caffeine, but much more intensely).

(At the psychiatric ward, they did find out my potassium levels were very low, so perhaps they could explain some of the symptoms- muscle weakness.) So I drank coconut water after baby no 2 just to make sure that kept my electrolytes stable.

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15 Replies

  • Hi Joanna,

    That's brilliant to hear that you had a second baby with no recurrence of PP, I think that will be reassuring to many women.

    This is really interesting question. I had the worst headache/migraine a couple of days before I became really unwell, and felt I had to drink pints and pints of water as I felt so thirsty. I have no idea how/if this was related to my PP but I do know that I had an infection, and that this might have had something to do with it.

    Who knows! I'd be interested to hear if others had any other symptoms like yours.

    Lots of love,


  • Thanks Jessieh for your reply. That's interesting.

    My perinatal pyschiastrist did say in a chat, after I got better, that inflammation (e.g. from an infection, but also a migraine is brought on by inflammation) can put you at higher risk of PP.

    And that after my 2nd baby that they should monitor me and check for signs of infection.

    And that all the ladies that came into the Mother and baby unit that she ran, who had PP, test high for inflammation.

  • That is fascinating! I would love to know more at some stage. I couldn't find any information from googling so I don't know if there is any research into this area xx

  • In the past mental illnesses were understand to just be a symptoms of neurotransmitter imbalance (e.g. low serotonin- depression, high dopamine- psychosis) but now it's understood that inflammation (over-activity of immune cells I believe in the brain) can also be part of the picture. I'm a nutritionist, so am interested in that side of things.

  • Thank you for this info. I was wondering about foods & vitamins with pp when I looked at an article recently about depression and it encouraged having B12, b9 b6 vitamins. Is there any info on diet and pp you can point me to? It would make a fascinating forum topic!!

  • Sure I'll post a bit more when I have time. Maybe next week. I took supplements after the birth of no 2 boy and I think they helped stop the PP (along of course with olanzapine, stress reduction and a night nanny for 10 days! )

  • No pressure to post, just very interesting. So brill that you stayed pp-free.


  • I had weird physical symptoms too. I felt v v calm. Which is unusual for me. And another friend had the same. So I suspect it was starting then. And then had a couple of v difficult things happen all at the same time and out of the blue I got racing thoughts. Really really fast. Couldn't even evaluate them. It was sort of like they were wizzing by me on a roll of film. Then they stopped. Then started. Maybe 5 times, in the space of 5 minutes. I was driving at the time. It was v v frightening.

    You wont believe tho that I was driving to the house of a v good friend, who is a specialist nurse, who has had PPP, whose husband is a mental health nurse :-) so they completely understood, and I felt v safe to tell them. Anyway, other weird physical symptoms...extraordinary calm, and peace and euphoria occasionally. Reading was incredibly slow. My doc said some people can have trouble writing. I didn't feel like I needed to drink or eat or go to the loo or anything. Another was I was sure that I had not noticed that they children had grown. I knew it was weird, but I remember noticing that they seemed taller and limbs longer etc....they even asked me this one in emergency admission! which was weird. I couldn't do some things...just sort of out of the blue. Just knew I couldn't and couldn't think of why. And then it would just stop.

    I had a horrible 5 days at home, after presenting at emergency after that initial episode. Could only leave my room occasionally. Was awful. Anyway, done now. ANd is 6 yrs ago :-) and am better than I hav ever been in my life. Think I had depression and anxiety before but didn't know. I was just sort of off.

    Hope this list of symptoms helps with you understanding yours.

  • Hi Joanna, thanks for sharing here. It's great that you had a second child with no PP. I had a second without the psychosis but did get a depressive episode. Like you I took olanzapine after the second birth, but I did breastfeed as I was advised that it was safe. I know what you mean about the endorphins at that stage - I definitely felt on the edge of being high and had to make lots of effort to rest and not be overactive.

    Regarding strange physical symptoms before the psychosis I distinctly remember laying in bed, in the first day or two at home after the birth, with my legs suddenly feeling absolutely burning hot, as if they were on fire. I'd never felt anything like it and it was quite scary and extremely uncomfortable. I did mention it to my midwife and I think she said it can be an effect of hormones at that stage, so I'm not sure if it was linked to PP or not.

    It'll be very interesting to hear here what other physical symptoms others tell us about on here.

    Best wishes


  • Glad you are Well! I am 4&5/12 yrs out from PP. I had severe Episiotomy pain which I think led to some of the sleep issues as well. That was my only real physical pain.

    Hope your family is Well.

    Thanks for posting.

  • Hi Joanna

    I presented with hypomania as well but don't recall any physical symptoms. Like you, I didn't attempt to breast feed with my second child and was absolutely fine. I chose not to feed in case I needed to take medication and also felt there was perhaps a hormonal link with breast feeding combined with sleep deprivation as contributing factors. Not sure if it had anything to do with it or not, certainly sleep deprivation seems to be a common thread. Interesting to see if there are any links with breast feeding/ hormones.

    All the best Vee Xx

  • Breast feeding def contributed in my case, as the day my milk finally came in (very late) I totally lost the plot. And the times I had been feeding before then, it really made me buzz but not in a nice way. So for me it was a no brainer not to do it again as the thought scared me, but everyone is different.

    Maybe my physical symptoms were just a sign my body was getting out of whack, as obviously my brain was starting to, and brain and body is obvs linked. Perhaps I'll never know!

  • On the breastfeeding theme, I never breast fed my first 3 children I did the first 3 days then stopped had no PP no depression and normal births. With my 4th child I decided to breast fed and had PP for the first time which started at about 3 weeks. I also had a c section for the first time. I find it very interesting and really felt there is a hormonal link. My second child never slept and I was very sleep deprived with him but that didn't have an effect. My son is now 9 months and I still struggle around the time of my periods get really paranoid and bad anxiety x

  • I think so. The girl I met at the mother and baby unit had PP around 3 months when she started reducing her breast feeding. And got mine when I started increasing mine. I also have had severe PMS since my periods started at 13 so hormones are def big part of the picture.

  • i had really weired physical symtoms to but they said it was aniexty sleep deprived and ocd still dont know today wat the pain was about

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