PP in the menopause ?

Hi Everyone, I am 60. I had the worst case of PP when I had my son 33 years ago. It was life threatening to the point were I was sectioned. After many attempts with meds, ECT - Electroconvulsive therapy did the trick. (Despite controversy). Previously I had no mental issues and they went after a year and I was completely free of any symptoms for years. However whatever 'it' is came back 12 years ago with the menopause. I can take Prozac and sometimes stop for up to 9 months but then the symptoms return. No GP's have any answers. I hate taking meds and tried many times to stop. Interstingly I can start Prozac and it works immediately and stop with not withdrawal symptoms. I have wondered for years what is going on with me. 5 years ago I had cognitive behavioural therapy and discovered that although I had been symptom free I had never got back to normal though I thought I was.

Does anyone know someone who has had the same experience later in life.

I truly sympathise with any mum who has PP, I feel even after all these years the help, support and understanding in the medical profession has not greatly improved to the extent one would expect after all these years. The worst part is that you often do not realise it is happening.

Love to all families who experience this. Xx

12 Replies

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  • Hi Bubble1955

    So glad you found us - and thanks for writing. I don't have the kind of experience you are describing- haven't been through the menopause yet, though i fully expect to have problems once i get there (*sigh*). I think it's really good that you have found something that works for you, though I completely empathise that it would be nice not to have to take anything. I hope you'll find some answers on the forum

    take care

    spaghetti x

  • Hi Bubble1955

    Welcome to the forum. I am sorry to hear that you have been ill again, after you had PP, when the menopause started. I had PP in 2011, I know how traumatic that was for me.

    I just wanted to let you know that yes, there is some research to show that women who have had PP are more vulnerable to becoming ill again during the menopause, though more research on the topic is needed. Information is on our website under 'frequently asked questions': app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    - under the last question 'Am I likely to have a psychiatric illness at other times?' About the menopause, under there is written:

    "It has been suggested that some women who experience PP may be vulnerable to relapse at times of major hormonal fluctuation, such as during the perimenopause (the time from the onset of menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and irregular periods, until the menopause itself).

    A case series review of post-menopausal women with a history of PP, found that 30% reported an episode of illness (including depression or mania/psychosis) during the perimenopause. Strikingly, most women who relapsed during the perimenopause had been well during the years in between childbirth and the menopause. Further studies are needed to explore this potential risk period more fully and identify which women might be at risk of perimenopausal relapse. Women, their partners and families should be vigilant for signs of relapse during the perimenopause and seek help from their GP or mental health team should symptoms develop. For more information about relapse planning, see page 14 of our Insider Guide on Recovery after PP."

    A link to the recovery guides, mentioned above are here: app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    I know you will find lots of support on here, there are a few women who had PP several years ago too. And I hope someone will write who also has experience of illness during the menopause so you can get that support too.

    I do hope you're able to get the support you need, and that you can stay as well as possible.

    Take care and never hesitate to write! X

  • Hello Bubble 1955

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I had my first PP forty years ago now and my second six years later. I also benefited from ECT as the medication wasn't working at all. Thankfully I fully recovered and have not had any symptoms since.

    I can't really add to the good advice above. I had an early menopause as I needed a hysterectomy in my mid-thirties due to fibroids. I'm really sorry to hear you are still suffering although you have found a medication that helps for a while.

    I'm sure there will be other mums here with more helpful advice. In the meantime there is a post from TraceyR72 entitled "PP and the Menopause" and you might find the replies helpful if you just put the title into 'Search' on this page.

    Take good care; we are always here to talk.

  • Dear Bubble 1955,

    I am 10 years younger than you (if the above number is your birth of date). Thank you for your brave letter...it is such a personal experience, but it helps to exchange experience, otherwise you think; hey, am I the only one who goes 'baloney' here, when everybody says you will recover...in my case not completely though...This forum was one of many supportive and contributing factors, who helped to come to terms with the new 'me'...

    I started communicating with this marvelous forum last year, when I needed to figure out whether I can confront the public & crowds. I wanted to have my own art exhibition...yes, and I did manage with the help of my support network including APP.

    I am not in the menopause yet, but had my son in my 40s. My hormones have been always quite devilish throughout the peri-menopause, but my creativity has gone up the roof. One way of trying to speak with my magnitude of feelings.

    My partner has lived through all my stages to whom I am so grateful and my son is quite familiar with the way I struggle. I mind race, I live with agora and social-phobia and tune into my hyper actions and low concentration levels, which can lead to frustration, but worst of all accidents. Ah well and then the multitasking without finishing the task and putting stuff away and my poor man unable to find anything in this household. One week of the month I am usually fine, otherwise, my hormones are dancing ;-)

    AM I happy, oh yes I am, because of my wonderful boys. I am grateful for life, because once I thought I will not get out of my hallucinations & yes, quite often they are back, even though at the moment I think they are real, I now can distinguish and get out of those dreamlike periods or even get reassurance of my partner i.e. that the bells are not ringing and that there is nobody or the dreams were just dreams...

    You are not on your own as you can see from my account above, we all had PPP and often different treatments and experiences. I honestly can say that I rather would have liked to be in a mum and baby unit.

    Health and happiness,

    Sabine

  • Hi bubble1955,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I had severe case of pp 2 years ago with my son and have been concerned -even though it's off into the future-about menopause. I believe prevention is the best medicine but obviously there is no straight answer for prevention with mental illness. Currently I am (safely) off my meds and I am into a holistic lifestyle to support my wellness. For me the key is keeping up with counseling and eating as healthy as I can. My hormones where all screwed up after 6 months on my antipsychotic and I did not regain my period and had several other symptoms. At that point I knew meds were not going to fix my issue. I began doing my own research and looking into energy work (accupuncture and cranial sacral therapy) and along with diet and my counselor they have worked miracles. I was still on meds during this time and several months ago tapered very slowly so I never rushed to get off of them even though I wanted to.

    Also with the hormone health I found someone on line named Melissa Ramos. She has her own you tube channel and she is amazing and covers all hormonal and women issues (pcos, fibroids) through diet. I really suggest her. Her site is Sexyfoodtherapy.com

    thanks again for sharing and take care

  • Hi Bubble 1955,

    I had twice PP in both my sons and about 4 years after every episode with no symptoms. Last summer I had another manic episode not connected to birth since we had decided together with my doctor to cut the stabiliser. Now as he told me I should take my meds at least since menopause (I am 38), because they consider it a "dangerous" period due to the hormones. So it is not unusual, when you have your first crisis, you open a door that never closes. I am considered officially bipolar, but you just learn to live with that, you are as normal as everyone else. Just look after yourself and everything will be okay, it is only a phase, difficult, I know, but it won't last forever!

    Love and my best wishes!

  • Hi Bubble1955

    My PP happened out of the blue almost 20 years ago. I spent 4 months with my baby on a Mother and Baby unit. When I was discharged, I was urged to continue taking my medication but without any detailed information as to why other than to prevent a relapse.

    Only a year or two after discharge did a psychiatrist at my local hospital suggest to me tha 'there was a strong possibility' that I had Bipolar Disorder and that it best to continue with medication indefinitely. The standard comparison with diabetes and insulin medication was made. I didn't see it that way, however. I had managed unmedicated for thirty years prior to childbirth and felt recovered. I gradually weaned myself off my medication when my daughter was around four years old.

    Everything was normal, well as normal as I ever was, for the next ten years or so. By this time I was in my mid forties and possibly perimenopausal. After a period of stress at work led to constant worry and literally completely sleepless nights I became hypo manic. Initially, I was depressed and anxious about the situation at work but suddenly my mood took off in a completely different direction. At the beginning, it was a pleasant release from all the misery I was suffering, but I was forced to concede to medication as my behaviour became more reckless.

    This time, the psychiatrist treating me said he was in no doubt that I was Bipolar and, like the psychiatrist I saw before urged me to continue indefinitely with medication.

    I am now resigned to the fact that I have a mood disorder that needs to be managed but still have my own misgivings. Recently, for example, I've felt that my current medication is actually suppressing my mood and energy levels and causing me to feel depressed. I feel that the drug that was necessary to bring me down from my mania is preventing me from enjoying life to the full.

    My head tells me to stick with my meds but a nagging voice inside me longs to be drug free. Are the risks of relapse worth taking? Probably not, I guess, most of the time.

  • Hi Mrs Jelly, sorry to hear you are on medication for Bipolar. My son was diagnosed last year and it brought back many painful memories watching him struggle with the effects of the medication. Interestingly, after anti- depressants for a year followed by anti psychotics he is now off his medication and feeling so much better.

    Would it be worth perhaps seeing your GP to maybe get your medication reduced as the dosage maybe too high for you perhaps?

    Anyway, I wish you all the very best. Love Vee X

  • Hi Vee,

    Glad to hear your son was helped to get back on track. I'm sure it was very difficult for you to see him suffering.

    In my own case, my gp is sympathetic regarding my wish to reduce or stop my medication but understandably asked me to hold off until I have an appointment with local psychiatric services.

    Well, that's where the frustration really starts, I'm afraid. In my area the average waiting time for non-urgent appointments is around 3 months. I have heard that many of the psychiatrists are employed here on short temporary contracts and in my experience so far are very reluctant to mess with the 'status quo'. So, after a long wait to see a specialist and a wasted morning attending an appointment, going through my medical history and personal circumstances the stock answer is 'keep taking the medication you're on'. 'You are Bipolar' Great! Tell me something I didn't know already!

    As my gp pointed out 'it's not going to happen is it?' and 'we're probably going to manage this ourselves unsupervised' which I know was not the outcome my gp or myself were looking for.

    I have to say, however, that when I have been in a crisis situation my experience with psychiatrists has been very positive. Perhaps the most committed and proactive people in psychiatry are working at the sharp end dealing with acute cases. No doubt they are fully stretched there too.

    My understanding of a bipolar condition is that symptoms and responses and adverse reactions to medication are very personal and vary from person to person. However, there appear to be insufficient resources available to help patients 'fine tune' their medication requirements. As a consequence, patients, like myself, take the medication required to see them through their crises and eventually give up when the side affects begin to outway the perceived benefits.

    I have now decided to creep and go with the support of my gp. The plan is to very slowly taper down my current prescription and introduce an alternative one. I will need to be vigilant regarding any sudden mood shifts and especially changes in my sleep routine.

    It's a challenge and a risk worth to try to optimise my mental health.

    We shall see! Fingers crossed.

    Jxx

  • Hi J , So lovely to hear from you and it looks as if you have a sympathetic & supportive GP. Everyone's experience & response to treatment is so variable as you say.

    The psychiatric services are superb when in crisis but as you say the waiting times are for non urgent appointments appears to be a UK wide problem.

    Anyway take good care of yourself and good luck. Vee Xx

  • Hello Bubble 1955

    Lovely to hear from a fellow 60 year old with PP 33/34 years ago and glad you found this forum. So sorry to hear your symptoms came back with the menopause. It must have been really hard hard going and sincerely wish you well.

    Interesting that following CBT you discovered you had never got back to 'normal' but remained symptom free. I wonder if any of us get back to our 'normal' lives following childbirth, and that's without PP! I must admit it took me a long time to come to terms with the indignity of being sectioned, the guilt, shame and loss of confidence etc, it remained buried for many years. By chance, I discovered this wonderful forum and it was so empowering to share experiences and 'meet' the brave women who offer friendship and support.

    I had an early menopause and was on HRT at 34 but luckily no recurrence of PP symptoms. I'm sure there will be links to discussions relating to menopause.

    All the best to you and everyone. Love Vee X

  • Hi Bubble,

    I was born in 1952, so a couple of years older than you. I had a PP 37 years ago but discontinued all meds by six months. I also experienced problems in menopause. I had a very stressful period just at the time I was perimenopausal. I struggled with minimal sleep but no psychosis or mania for several months. A doctor recommended a ceiling fan, and overnight I was sleeping again. I also took some flaxseed which has phytoestrogens. Lowering the temperature of the bedroom also helps.

    Menopause is a difficult time for most women with hot flashes and sleep problems. I was fortunate to be able to treat it with natural methods. I still use either a ceiling fan or a little machine for "white noise." We have to experiment and find out what works. Good news is that menopause symptoms will gradually fade.

    Warm wishes and best of luck to you.

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