Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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A question for the experienced Mums

My son is now 3.5 and we've noticed that when he gets over-tired he becomes very hyperactive (as opposed to just crashing out like I've heard other children do). We are wondering whether this is normal behaviour or whether he could have a tendency towards mania/bipolar when he grows up (I'm not bipolar but at risk of psychosis relapse from stress and lack of sleep).

My partner was questioning whether he could have experienced a dose of the PPP hormones at birth? I guess my question is whether anyone who has grown up children has had any problems with their children or whether I am creating worry for myself? Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

8 Replies

I should have said that one reason for prompting this was reading this BBC news article this week about our local school he will probably attend - a very high rate of mental health problems which is very sad


I'm going to put on my "health professional hat" right now and say that, although I can't comment on if your son's behaviour is 'normal' or not, it is unlikely to be related to your PP.

We do know that one of the biggest risk factors for a person developing bipolar disorder or a psychotic disorder is having a first degree relative with one of those illnesses, so your son may be at increased risk as he gets older, but again, this is unlikely to be relevant to him now. My experience being around other people's young kids has been that they often do get a bit hyper or grumpy if they are overtired - there's likely a whole range of normal, and this could be normal for your son without being pathological in any way, but have a chat to your GP if you're worried.


Hi bluestarlady

Thanks for your post, it's an interesting question. I know that I agonised myself, worrying if my illness has had any affect on my son.

First I just wanted to say that there has not been any research done about the affect the mum having PP has on the child. There is some research concerning the effect PND has on children but even the results of this research is complicated by results showing that the effect on the child in many cases is because the women suffer from depression not just postpartum but also when she child is older too.

There is definitely a link between a mum having PP, and their daughter then having a higher risk of PP than the general population, but not by a significant amount. Our FAQ page says "You may be worried about your risk if a close relative has had postpartum psychosis. If your mother or sister had postpartum psychosis but you have not had any mental illness, your risk is around 3 in 100 (3%). This is higher than the risk in the general population. It is still much lower than for the very high risk groups."

I just wanted to say as well that your son sounds really similar to mine. My son is quite hyper active. Sometimes I feel so embarassed when he's in a group and all the other children are sitting down quietly while he is running around and can't sit still, and he's 5. He's just so active. I like to reassure myself it's because he's really intelligent and just loves to explore lol! But yes, there is no evidence that this suggests he could be bipolar later... Your son sounds really normal to me!!

Take care X

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Hello bluestarlady

My sons are so grown up that I have treasured grandchildren! The thought that they might be affected by my PP twice worried me throughout their school years and beyond. Although I didn't realise I had PP then, just knew I had been mentally unwell.

I hope you will be reassured when I say that they were not in the slightest affected. There is a six year age gap between them and they are very loving and supportive as grown men with families of their own. They chose not to go to Uni but both have professional careers after endless studying. My first son is a Chartered Accountant and my second son is a Gas Engineer. They have never had any mental health issues and I'm very proud they have achieved so much and are happy.

I didn't hold them very much when they were first born but have had the privilege of holding my newborn grandchildren in my arms and it's such a special feeling of unconditional love.

A few years ago I talked openly to my sons about my PP when they were born. They were so sorry to hear what happened to me, very understanding and we all hugged. I have such good memories to look back on .......

Don't spend your time worrying as I did, just enjoy every minute as they grow so quickly. 3.5 is such a lovely age ..... I think your son's just enjoying his early years. I don't think children can win ...... when they're quiet we think they're up to something and when they're too active we think there's something wrong. It would be a poor world if children were always quiet and showed no imagination. He's just not following the crowd ..... as long as he's happy and healthy I really wouldn't worry.

Take care ..... PP mums are amazing :)


Thank you 🙂. Your reply brought tears to my eyes and it was lovely to hear that your sons have done so well despite your PP. You sound like you've been a real super-mum to them! X


Hi bluestarlady,

You've already received some great info and support here, but just to add from my experience... my nearly 7 year old and 2 year old also have the hyper behaviour whilst tired, and I know of other Mums who have struggled with this. Without the research of course we do not know, but I would think it's more than likely just one of those "phases". There is no mental health history in my family that I know of, so I think I have just about given up trying to reason or work out why I was ill, and just accept that I was, I recovered and then be aware that I might be ill in the future so do everything I can to minimise the risk. As everything, it is a balance I think.

And I have found that everything in my motherhood experience to date has been a phase in some way, good or bad! Sometimes it is about them finding their feet, and I think we are just sensitive after having experienced PP that we need to do our very best to make up for the times when we couldn't, due to the illness.

Motherhood generally (and for Dads too) can be such a trying time, but I think having the confidence to try and enjoy what you can and muddle through the rest is really the best thing that anyone can do! That's my ethos anyway!

All the best, xx


Hi Bluestarlady,

I can completely understand that you might feel worried about this, I also think about how my experience of PP might effect my son. It's very reassuring to me to read Lilybeth's response, I hope the comments above have helped with how you are feeling.

Life with a 3.5 year old can be veeeery draining indeed. My boy is also nearly the same age (born May 2013) so I completely understand! Especially now he is dropping his naps (maybe 1x a week now, in the car). He tears around and has tons of energy - I call 6-7pm the witching hour as it tends to be when he is most active and meltdowns are to be expected!

It is hard to know what is 'normal', as it could be a phase - or just part of his personality. If you are concerned then of course, do talk to professionals. I always think it is better to talk rather than worry yourself, there's no harm there. Or if you want to chat to us here if that helps too, then do keep coming back :)

All the best,

Jessie xx

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It is 'normal' for some children to become hyperactive when overtired. Both mine do. I have seem many children become like this. Definitely nothing to worry about.

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