bi-polar or psychosis

I have a question. After my baby was born I had very little sleep and was manic which turned out to later become psychosis because my body forgot how to sleep and I started hallucinating after three days of no sleep. Now I'm worried that I'm really actually bi-polar. My doctor doesn't have an answer for me. I'm on Olanzapine and tapering off klonopin. To the moms that are bipolar, what were your symptoms after birth?

8 Replies

  • Dont worry re diagnosis. Just focus on getting better. Labels can change and they are not for life. There will be times when you are totally well without a diagnosis!! Postpatum psychosis or doesnt matter so much, except the medicines you are on are working for you....i personally see the diagnosis as more of helping the doctors than me. So dont try diagnosing yourself...just leave it to the doctors.

    My diagnoses were brief reactive psychosis, then five years later postpartum psychosis..both related to severe anxiety onset and lack of sleep.

    Ive had hallucinations and drs thought i coped so well through them they were just plain anxiety...but i know medicine helps so i keep telling them its true psychosis. Dont worry, scary as they are, Hallucinations dont necessarily mean a particular dignosis, its just a symptom of your brain in overload...and lack of sleep can explain this. I found seeing a good psychologist could help explain this to me properly and give me lots of strategies to manage.

  • good morning waffles223,

    i was unable to sleep after my daughter was born and i was being very manic. ten days later i was diagnosed with PP and admitted to an MBU and given medication. i still couldnt sleep for ages but eventually when my underlying infection (which was only discovered month later) was treated i got better. due to my presentation (i believed i was about to die then that thr world was ending and i had to save humanity or rather that my daughter was the new saviour and i was starting a new religion/belief system) i was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. i stopped olanzapine after 7-8months but continued with lithium. a few months later i started reducing the lithium each month and by the time my daughter was 20 months i was completely off meds.

    i just need to be more careful than most people in ensuring i sleep enough, exercise and generally balance life so i avoid severe mood swings. i had actually asked a psychologist a few years before having my daughter whether i might be bipolar. so not surprised about the diagnosis and from i have gathered having PP means you get the diagnosis bipolar too but i am no expert.

    best wishes!

  • Hi waffles223. It is as little complicated, so you are not going to get an answer very easily. I had two manic episodes (one after each birth), so typically postpartum psychosis. After my second child I took Valproic Acid just for precaution and when we decided with my doctor to cut it off, I had my third episode, not connected to birth this time. Now I am considered bipolar, as everyone who had even one episode. I started again Valproic Acid and I am feeling great. My psychologist says that it is just labels, bipolar or not. It's like having the flu. You get over it and continue, taking care of yourself, like all people must (no stress, not much alcohol, sleeping well, etc). The symptoms for me were the same, birth or not.

    Take care, we are here for you.

  • Hi there! To me bipolarity was diagnosed a year and a half after birth, and my severe depression did not go away with the topiramate and the Venlafaxine, which made me even more anxious and hyper. My baby was born without an aesophagus, nor a rectum, nor an anus, and the anxieties of seeing him suffer so excruciatingly because of the interventions and the colostomy and the intervals between morphine kept me literally sleepless for 33 days until I had to be put away... There are doctors who can make a differential diagnosis but hallucinations derived from lack of sleep can resemble psychosis, and yet under lithium I thrive serenely :)...

  • Hello there. I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder, peripartum onset 6 weeks after the birth of my second baby. I was hypomanic immediately postpartum and when I returned home a couple days later I became hypergraphic as well, which meant I wrote compulsively (and I was a professional writer to begin with!) but according to my memory and my hospital records, which I asked for, I didn't have any psychotic features.

    To answer your question, hypomania manifested in me as a little need for sleep, excessive energy, constant talking, and exuberance - all of those symptoms didn't alarm anyone because I seemed very happy about my baby and it 2007, before the sea change of perinatal mood and anxiety disorder awareness started.

    It's great that you're aware of your situation and that you're researching it. I hope I answered your question. Bipolar disorder is not what I wanted to have, ever (My Dad had it) but I'm living very well with it now and I found the right medications. Take good care. I wish you the best!!

  • Hi there, I presented with hypomania following the birth of my first child and admitted to general psychiatric ward for 8 weeks or so this was swiftly followed by depression. However, I'm happy to report no further mental health issues following the birth of my second child or in the 35 years since. Interestingly enough my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 2 years ago when he was 30 although initially diagnosed with depression.

    Anyway, all the very best to you and try not to worry about labels, just take your time to recover and enjoy your lovely new baby. Tak care. Xx

  • I think that the doctors look into this as there is such a common link. I shared all the same symptoms and am not bi-polar. I think the danger is that we are suggestible and paranoid straight after these psychotic periods so you may start to believe that you are bi-polar when you aren't. The most important thing is not to worry about it because you have enough on your plate. These things will figure themselves out in their own time.

  • I suppose I see post natal psychosis as being triggered by the birth but part of the recovery process is that many women have depression or anxiety for a period after, and I suppose potentially in the recovery you could relapse to mania and that still might not be bipolar- only time can tell.

    But like others have said mental health diagnosis is very difficult because they can't cut our heads open and see what wiring is wrong!!

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