Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Has anyone looked into the long-term effects of pp - particularly poorly treated or untreated pp - on surviving children?

When I was born 67 years ago, pp was hardly recognized and living with a pp mother was a nightmare that I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through, yet I am sure that some cases must still be covered up by the family (as mine was) or slip thru the established safety nets.

4 Replies

Hi jluna, I'm sorry to hear you had such a bad time - are you sure it was PP that was the problem or could it perhaps have been other mental health problems that resulted due to it not being properly treated? I only say this as my understanding of PP is that it occurs in the postpartum period and if treated then most mums go on to make a complete recovery. Did your mum not receive the right support? Your story is particularly interesting as I had considered doing some research on this myself.

My own mum is bipolar and had a PP when I was born almost 24 years ago but thankfully my experience has been very different, she's a great mum and I can honestly say, not only do I not remember anything about her having to spend time away from me in hospital when I was born as I was so young, but it hasn't made any impact on me apart from perhaps a positive one in that it's made me want to become a midwife to help spot women who start showing signs of the illness.

It is terrible that you have had such a bad experience, all I can say is that I believe things must have come a long way since your mum was suffering and to my knowledge, thankfully now most women are treated before it develops into a longer-term illness and go on to be fabulous mums.


Thanks for your interest. From what I have been able to put together over the years, I'm pretty sure it was pp., but the only treatment she was given was by the local GP - a daily dose of phenobarbitol, which she miraculously stopped taking when I left home. She took one look at me at birth and said "No thanks, don't want it". This is confirmed by a letter from a friend of my parents who said "I am sure that you will learn to love the baby in time...", which to me is a pretty revealing statement. From there it went downhill. She frequently threatened to murder me -I remember one attempt when I was about 4 - and for years the family never left me alone with her, If my Dad wasn't there, some other family member would be. Some members of my family think things might have been different if I had been a boy, and it is sure that she was much more interested in my sons than my daughter.

Moreover, she was a dedicated primary school teacher all her working life and never had any trouble with those kids, just me.

The effects on me were pretty bad, but if wasn't till I was in my 40s and came across the letter that I started putting two and two together and got more details from other family members. My father was dead by then, but his mantra all my life was "Let's not upset your Mother". All my life I felt guilty that I wasn't good enough, no matter what I did, and even my children thought it was me being nasty till at 18 one of my sons witnessed an episode which upset him terribly.

That's it in a nutshell. If you want more please let me know.


Hi Jluna & welcome to the site.

I'm so sorry to hear of your experience of growing up with your mother with mental illness, I can only imagine the heartache over the years. It's awful that families were so ashamed in those days that they felt they had to hide mental illnesses. In that era there was no understanding, very little support & a lot of hiding of symptoms which would've made family life intolerable.

There's still a long way to go (particularly with PP), but thankfully things have changed & these illnesses are more widely recognised & accepted now. I also think that it's unlikely that PP would or could be totally covered up by families these days - perhaps too severe to hide.

Was your mother diagnosed at the time as having PP & do you know how she was treated? Did she get better or continue to have further episodes of illness? In my understanding, recovery from PP is complete. It does take time to get over the episode though, particularly with all the myths & misunderstanding around (& the unbalanced view on the horror stories on the internet doesn't help).

There hasn't been much research about outcomes for children but what there is suggests that perhaps there are better long term outcomes than PND & there's little evidence of long term association...but mothers differ I guess. Reassuringly, all the evidence that does exist, suggests that women with PP as they get better, go on to become extremely good mothers - that's certainly true in my experience, all the PP mums I've spoken to are very caring & loving mums.

APP is working hard to ensure women recovering from PP have the best experiences of treatment & don't experience the things that would have happened 67 years ago. It's extremely important to spread understanding & awareness so that no one is stigmatised any longer & families don't suffer what you had to suffer.

Thank you very much for sharing your experience & posting this thought provoking question.


Sorry our posts crossed, I've only just seen your 2nd response above so ignore the questions in my post about treatment :-)


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