How quickly does PPP come on? - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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How quickly does PPP come on?

Aidan2 profile image
18 Replies

Hi, can anyone tell me how quickly postpartum psychosis comes on? Social services are convinced it can be snap of the fingers quick and that if someone is not watching my wife 24/7 she will instantly snap and commit infanticide if left alone for 5 minutes. Isn't there always some warning signs? When they say it comes on quickly do they mean seconds, minutes, hours or days?

Thanks, Aidan

18 Replies
NanaJudith_APP_Vol profile image

Hello Aidan2, Firstly congratulations on the birth of your baby. I am so sorry that you are so worried about your wife. I can only say that it seems that postpartum psychosis varies with all sufferers. My daughter's serious onset was four days after the birth of her baby though retrospectively there were signs a day or so beforehand and sleep depravation was certainly a contributer. You say it is the social services that have said this, I wonder what the doctors have said.

You will get a lot of support and more helpful replies from the Action Post Partum community, and there are also the APP guides.

Your wife is very lucky to have such a supportive husband.

Good luck and best wishes to you and your wife.


Hannah_at_APP profile image

Hi Aidan2 and welcome to the forum, I hope you have found some useful information and shared experiences here. It sounds as if you are going through a scary time with your wife and thankyou for reaching out for support here too - has she received a diagnosis of PP or is she at risk of it? Here are some links which I hope will be helpful to you: Usually PP comes on very quickly, in the days and weeks following childbirth but it can also occur later. I know from my experience, I was experiencing symptoms perhaps whilst still in hospital after giving birth (being unable to sleep and feeling "wired") and in the early days when I was at home. Luckily this was picked up by midwives and after seeing a number of professionals, I was admitted to hospital when my baby was less than 2 weeks old.

PP is a scary illness, not just for Mums but for families around them, and the rapidly changing nature of it does mean that it is quite a "risky" illness in many ways. From women I speak to, and my own experience 9 years ago now when I became acutely & severely unwell "out of the blue", there were few warning signs, although with hindsight I can see that lack of sleep, a far from ideal birth experience, difficulties with feeding and weight loss and the early days of a newborn were all things which led to a "perfect storm" for me. I know it's really hard to know what is "normal" with a newborn but I was behaving very out of character and my husband was able to communicate this so I got help - as I was fiercely in denial about it, and also terrified that my baby might come to harm or be taken away. Even though I fortunately had no thoughts of wanting to harm my baby, I couldn't look after him at all, and could barely dress myself or string a sentence together, I was completely detached from reality which meant it was very hard for me to do anything at all - so the risks were real from a point of view of not being aware of myself.

I do remember more lucid moments and managing to put on a "front" to professionals but PP is a psychiatric emergency and your wife does need support, preferably from a perinatal mental health team. You mention social workers, but does she also have a CPN, or Psychiatrist involved in her care from a local team?

It can be a strain on those around, such as yourself too, and I hope that you are able to get the right help for your wife and family. Take care, xx

Lilybeth profile image

Hello Aidan2

I am so sorry your wife is suffering such a traumatic illness which must be a very stressful time for you. It's such a shame that the joy of parenthood can be tarnished by such an experience.

My first PP episode was a long time ago. I have read from my notes that from the date I was discharged from the maternity unit, PP hit within 8 days. I was sectioned and admitted to A & E and after a while transferred to a mixed psychiatric unit as there were not MBUs at that time.

It's a very distressing time for your wife and she will not be in control of her thoughts if she has been diagnosed with PP. Following my second PP, as there was no bed available in the psychiatric hospital, I was watched by my family 24/7 as I was actively suicidal. Although it's a very frightening illness, it is temporary and very treatable. Thankfully I eventually fully recovered.

There is a very good short account of a dad's experience in "Husband in a Storm" which you might find helpful, the link being

Please take care of yourself too at such an unsettling time and write again if it helps you to talk freely here.

cjheins1984 profile image

mine took 8 weeks to start showing I was very manic from day one but no obvious signs then after 8 weeks it got really bad

Hello Aidan2,

welcome to this forum! First of all congratulation on your new arrival.

There are quite a few dads who have been asking for support on this site. It is a great place to exchange experiences, but also to get reassurance...

I am sorry that your wife is so poorly. I believe Hanna and Lilybeth raised some important points such as whether your wife has had a diagnosis of PPP or any other pre and/or post natal mental health issue; in that case there should be a support network of professionals available for your wife such as a community mental health team i.e. psychiatrist...

Did you speak about your concerns with midwife, GP and or a health visitor?

I was not diagnosed with PPP until I was in hospital, even though some of the peri natal staff at the time (midwife) suspected Psychosis. My partner had to convince everybody that my condition within 2 weeks went down hill rapidly...I did some very bizarre things, which was totally out of character...but social services was only involved in order to make sure a family support system was in place, where the baby was looked after.

I hope the above suggested links will be useful for you. It is a difficult time for you, too. Please look after yourself...hope you find the appropriate support and help within your locality. We are here for you in the background!


StephAnie252148 profile image

Hi Aidan2, my psychosis came on 2 days after giving birth and i eventually ended up in a mother and baby unit 3 months later when treatment at home was unsucessful a year later i have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Congratulations on the birth of your baby, remember to look after yourself aswell as it can be a very stressful and challenging time for a partner of someone with post partum psychosis. Take cate.

Janellec profile image
Janellec in reply to StephAnie252148

Just wondering if you are now on medication long term for your bipolar disorder? If so may I ask what medication and if you've had any side effects?

StephAnie252148 profile image
StephAnie252148 in reply to Janellec

Yes i am on aripiprazole 30mg, propanolol 80mg and fluoxitine 60mg. The side effects i experience are weight gain, tiredness and blurred vision. At first i had an uoset stomach with the aripiprazole but this calmed down after a couple of weeks

Hi Aidan2 ,

Well done on the birth of your baby . I am so sorry to hear about your wife but pleased you have taken the time to come on here and get some support .

I had PP in 2016 and I would say my main things of how it started were elation like I had taken a drug not sleeping well then not sleeping whatsoever loss of appitite and being fixated on things then I just lost the plot . This came on gradually from the September and I was sectioned in December and I would second that you should see a Dr and the mental heath team as people’s awareness of this illness isn’t great .

I wish you both all the best and I hope you both get the support you need sending you a hug too xxx

You must be feeling bereft with your new babe and your wife not well. It is not an easy time - this type of psychotic depression may not come on within a few days - it may be several weeks later but there may be other factors such as postnatal fever and sleep deprivation. It may be a rocky ride - but know you will be there to support your wife.

She may say things she does not mean - so don't take it to heart if she blames you for her condition. The support network should be there when she comes home so there is help with cooking and chores. Congratulations on being a dad.

kats1988 profile image

Welcome to the board. My pp started the day I gave birth. In fact once she was born the midwife tried to hand her to me and I screamed “that’s not my baby, take it away”, and I just went downhill from there and ended up getting sectioned and put in a mother and baby unit for 4 months. X

Mudgette profile image

It can peak really quickly. There were some warning signs with me but then within a 12 hour period I really deteriorated and was convinced I’d killed my baby. X

Foxcub1 profile image

I think mine came in during labour. My memory of the c section was thinking that my baby wasn’t mine and I had very unwell thinking in the 48 hours that followed. I masked my symptoms/it wasn’t detected and I wasn’t given a proper diagnosis. I think there were signs missed and I feel let down by that. But I also recognise that I didn’t trust anyone and was very paranoid and so was quite secretive in my behaviour.

Bluelady-sing profile image

infanticide is extremely rare are the social workers not keen on taking advice from the Doctors? when you say watching your wife at every moment? what do they mean? do have the support of a Gp or medical person? Is there a way you getting a more informed professional view?

Bluelady-sing profile image

Congrats and good luck!!

Bluelady-sing profile image

Don't forget the joy of the new baby!!! CONGRATS!!

Lilybeth profile image

Hello Aidan2

I hope you found the replies here helpful and your wife is receiving professional support if she has been diagnosed with PP. Take good care of yourself too as this must be a very stressful time for your family.

cjheins1984 profile image

my phycosis story if you want to read it might give you some ideas on the whole thing ! feel free to contact me if you need any advice !

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