Electrolytes and postpartum psychosis - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Electrolytes and postpartum psychosis

Varvarita profile image

Hey!Recently i read an article, where it was explained that lithium is used as a mood stabilizer due to its capacity to have an impact on ionic in-cell balance and also on transportation of ions of sodium and calcium between cells. And that the imbalances of sodium may be one of the causes of depression or mania. For example, deficiency in ions of sodium in blood may be associated with onset of mania.

What caught my attention is that the last trimester of my pregnancy i had severe electrolytes imbalance which led to loss of sensitivity in my arms and leg cramps during night time while pregnant. And then my PP, which followed, started with mania.

I wonder if anyone ever came across anything which may be linked to electrolyte theory behind postpartum psychosis.

I might be naive but i believe that in the age of global science and information exchange we can make a breakthrough in discovery of the true nature of PP.

Any information and your personal experience will be much appreciated.

Thank you,


X x

12 Replies

Don’t know if it has any relevance but I took magnesium, zinc and vitamin B12 after my first pregnancy and didn’t develop mania. I had horrific leg cramps during pregnancy too

When I took lithium a long time ago I got severe muscle cramps.

Lithium is essentially a salt so plenty of water needs to be drunk when using lithium. This will help avoid cramps which mostly come from dehydration.

Ellie_at_APP profile image

Hi Varvarita

Thanks for your post. It is interesting what you write about having severe electrolytes imbalance when you were pregnant and whether this may have contributed to you having postpartum psychosis.

I haven't heard anything about this, but have asked our clinical advisers if they know of anything, or any studies that might be looking at things such as this. I know that there is more and more research being done about postpartum psychosis, and what the possible causes may be. Information about some of them that we are involved with is on our website:


From my experience, and hearing many stories, and also hearing clinicians speak about PP, it seems often to be a combination of factors, a 'perfect storm', rather than one single cause, which are often different for each person, and all contribute to someone becoming unwell. The electrolytes imbalance may have been one of the factors that contributed to you experiencing PP, perhaps when it was also combined with other things (lack of sleep etc)? I definitely feel physical factors play a part - our minds and bodies are so interlinked - our mental health affects our physical health, and vice versa. They have found from studies that having preeclampsia seems to increase people's risk of experiencing PP for example.

When people experience PP they should do a combination of tests to see if anything physical is the cause.

Sorry I don't have more clear answers, I will definitely let you know if I find out anymore.


They don't know how lithium even works but for some people such as the US actor Richard Dreyfuss it was the only thing that controlled his bipolar disorder Imo the drop in progesterone after giving birth plays a leading role in ppp the late Dr Katherina Dalton was a pioneer in female hormones and the importance of natural progesterone cream she coined the term PMS, UK NHS used to follow her principle for women vulnerable to ppp but not any more

HelenMW profile image
HelenMWVolunteer in reply to lillyofthevalley37

I liaised with Katherina Dalton back in 1995 and followed her regime. No repeat of pp but I gather it’s not followed any longer. Not sure quite why but I guess ideas change .

I was found to have very low potassium after my son when I had pp. So I think there may be a link. But I don’t know if pp causes it or the other way around. Also know either bipolar there are issues with calcium or sodium channels. But the research is still in its infancy

HelenMW profile image

I think we all would love to know absolutely how we got PP . I was on lithium and amytripteline for a year once I had recovered. This was back in 1988. During what was a traumatic labour i was given very large injections of pethedine and had an out of body moment, so for subsequent births that’s all my notes said No Pethedine!! I also had no sleep and needed food!!Good that we can share our experiences though, and studies and research are on going. Even the provision of MBUs is great news .

Blessings x

Pikorua profile image

Hello Varvarita, and members, who will read! :-)

Interesting view points so far!

I start with salt intake. I never used much salt in my diet and thus, suffered with lots of pains in my legs (including throughout pregnancy) until my partner highlighted why I am continuously in pain. Therefore I always have to force myself to have a salt intake. I am not taking any Lithium and thus above mentioned issues do not apply to my circumstances.

With regards to "why us and PPP"?! I believe that cause and effect plays a huge part and the way how we are genealogically made up, but also Lev Vigotsky's theory that our learning and lifestyle will be part of influential factors for our ups and downs, which can affect in my opinion body mind and soul. In my case my underlying disposition of BP has caused the PPP tumour to explode...and I hope that research will be delving deeper into the severity of PPP.

There are women who have been to hell and back not only for 2 yrs. There are many cases where there is no end to mental health symptoms due to many reasons including trauma and stressors. More qualitative work needs to be done to explore the stages of life cycle via case studies.

Those issues apply especially to those who are hitting peri and or, are in the menopausal stages. Additional chronical illnesses, whether physical and/or mental have a significant pointer in the way how we continue a qualitative manageable life path after PPP recovery. This is not only referring to establishing a tool kit for balancing conditions, but to prevent loss of lives!!!

Obviously I am covering another topic here, and I voice my thoughts maybe for those ladies, who are not ready to speak up at the moment or who are regionally not privileged to have the same opportunities.

(Somerset is still ignored!)

Health and happiness to you all!

HelenMW profile image

Enjoyed reading your post. I am 62 now and I think mostly through menopause. What I wanted to share was that I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and hyperthyroidism in May 2020. Of all the symptoms the one that caused me most problems was the anxiety , paranoia and awful mood swings. It was a horrible time for me and my husband but a very helpful endocrinologist suggested CBT therapy and that has been helpful. I think I am nearly through it now, next blood test will show. It made me realise again the delicate balance of our hormones. Blessings x

Interesting posts. I too wish we knew more. When I was admitted to hospital with my initial symptoms of confusion I had really low sodium levels. However I got worse not better during the treatment to address this. It is though entirely possible it contributed. I love there to be more research into this. x

wow thank you everyone for your amazing comments! such food for thought and further research!

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