Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Has anyone been well and off medication only to get unwell again years later and without having a baby?

I am on rather high doses of medication now and spent a month on a ward as i was so ill,i never thought i would get unwell again and have had to hand my notice in as i was unable to return to work. My youngest child is now 17years old.I think my illness returned as i felt unwell after an operation and also had to have my dog put to sleep as he had leukemia i really think thats what triggered it off. Has anyone else had simular experiences where the illness returned but not by having a baby? I just want to work again and get back to normality,but find it hard.

8 Replies

Hi Lavender,

Sorry to hear that you became unwell again and had to go back into hospital. I hope that you received the help and support you needed at that time. I am so sorry that you were unable to return to work too, that must have been a real blow, especially all this time after being ill before.

Having an operation can indeed be a very stressful time, particularly when you have a family to look after. To have to put your dog to sleep as well must have been very sad and a tough decision for you to make. I think anything that puts stress on us can be a trigger for illness. There are all sorts of factors involved when we become ill, and stress can be one of them. Even such things as jet lag (a stress on our body clock) or moving house (stressful but can be exciting & welcome?) can trigger illness.

I am only 5 years past my PP, and as yet have not had anything trigger the illness again. However, I have had a couple of scares where I felt that I might be getting unwell again (or feared it) and I am acutely aware that I need to look after myself in high stress situations, particularly when I am unable to get as much sleep as I should. I have had to turn down taking part in events that I wanted to or travelling long distances because my body is telling me to slow down (the latest one took a panic attack to tell me I had to stop and take care of myself!).

Thanks for posting this question because I do believe there are others who have experienced similar, you won't be alone in this. I was told by my psychiatrist to be aware that I could become ill outside of childbirth, not as high a risk as after a baby but there was a risk nonetheless.

I hope your recovery continues well and that you can get life back to the way you want it, even it is a new way of doing things. One thing I know from my experience, is that recovery takes time and we have to work our way through it mindfully at times, with lots of tlc and support from family and friends.

All the best and take care



Hi Lavender123

I am so sorry to hear that you had this relapse many years after PP. Unfortunately, yes it is possible for women to experience episodes of mania/psychosis/depression unrelated to childbirth after PP. I think a very important thing right now is to congratulate yourself on being so well and in employment for many years as your youngest is 17.

It may feel at the moment that you will never get back to work - and it's important to give yourself a really good amount of time to recover, however I definitely think 'never say never'... What professional support do you have at the moment? Are you under a community team at all or just back with the GP?

In recovery, it's important to keep monitoring your dose of meds - I noticed that you said it's reeling 'rather high' and wonder if it's zonking you out a bit? If you are feeling it's reducing your ability to do everyday life, it's fine to go and have a chat with your health provider and see if you can taper back a little bit so that you still get the treatment effect but less side-effects. Do chat to us here as we will be able to help from our own experiences of meds and working collaboratively with our health professionals.

In terms of work, would you fancy doing some volunteering or a few days' part-time work to get your confidence back? Taking a gradual steps approach can be really helpful. Here's some excellent advice from Rethink on all the issues around work after a relapse:

Take really good care of yourself, and keep chatting - navigating this next stage of recovery can be hard but it's going to be well worth it.

Naomi x


I couldn't get the above link to work Naomi, I this might be the one:


Hiya again,i do have a CPN that calls on me every 3wks now. The medication isn't zonking me out but i wish i didn't have to be on such high doses of 3 types as the side effects are weight gain,dry mouth,tremors,blurred vision etc ,which i now have. I shake more some days than others. When i was admitted on a ward i had to sign for ECT, although i was really ill at the time i still felt really frightened at the thought. For some reason they decided not for me to have ECT but put on extra doses of medication. I have to take lithium 600mg,quetiapine 300mg and mirtazapine 45mg! I am wondering if other sufferers have had ECT and what are they're views on this treatment. Lavender1 x


Hi Lavender

I did have a course of ECT and found it less scary than I had feared. It is very clinical, which can be upsetting but there is no pain and the worst I felt was a little tearful on waking up. I didn't suffer any short-term memory loss personally but this is the main risk they will ask you to weigh up.

Your medication side-effects sound pretty grim hon. I think I would be asking for a review with the community psychiatrist if I were you - that's perfectly within your rights, you may have to wait a little bit but it sounds as if the 3 separate drugs could be interacting a bit and just some gentle tweaking/tapering might help.

Let us know how you get on, thinking of you



Hi Lavender,

Sorry to hear you have been unwell again.

I take Lithium which I started 20 months after my son was born. I had almost recovered after having PP. Then I did a lot of stressful things at once. I moved from Leicester to Wrexham as I wanted to be near my family. I got married and I got a job and tried to go back to work.

A couple of days after going back to work I realised I wasn`t well enough, I had tried to run before I could walk and my concentration wasn`t right and I didn`t feel safe in what I was doing. To cut a long story short my contract was terminated on the grounds of ill health.

It was then that I became severely depressed. I was referred to a Psychiatrist in Wrexham who put me on anti depressants. I was only just medication free following PP.

The anti depressants were increased and increased as there was no improvement until i came out of the severe depression and went to the opposite extreme. My Psychiatrist said Lithium was a last resort and juggled around with anti depressants for a year of very destructive highs and lows.

I eventually saw a Professor who started me on Lithium. My son was 20 months old by this time. I gradually started to get my life back and have been well on Lithium for many years.

I decided with the guidance of my Psychiatrist to try coming off Lithium about 7 years ago. The side effects were weight gain, I put on 3 stone within 6 months of starting Lithium. I felt that my emotions were blunt, felt held back and flat. I wasn`t sure if this was me or my medication..After being so well for many years on Lithium without any further episodes of illness, I thought I might be ok without it.

Trying to keep this as brief as I can! I gradually reduced my Lithium over two months and was feeling fine. A couple of days after I stopped it completely I was bullied by my boss in work. I became very stressed and upset and started having problems sleeping.

I went to see my GP and he gave me sleeping tablets (Diazepam). I was on a high dose and they didn`t work. I became exhausted. I went back to my GP and he gave me haloperidol. I was on my own in the house with my 11 year old son when I reacted to the haloperidol. I woke in the night thinking I had written a book and it had been published. I thought I was famous.

I was in such a state I rang the on call psychiatrist at the local hospital. I was so distressed I nearly drove myself to the hospital. I was then admitted to an acute ward at the Psychiatric hospital. I tried other medication which didn`t work for me and decided to go back on Lithium.

The good thing is I know I am well on Lithium and can live my life despite the side effects. The thing that really annoys me is I will never know if I would have been ok without Lithium if I hadn`t had the stress at that time. I am too scared to try coming off it again. the way I look at it is I am well on Lithium and will stick with it.

Sorry this reply is so long! All the years I have been on Lithium I have been well and have managed to work, bring up my son and run a home so I can`t complain!

It`s good that you are very aware of looking after yourself, sleeping well and when possible avoiding stress. I was so disappointed when I couldn`t work when I tried going back initially but give yourself time. I tried to run before I could walk but after a short time I was able to work again

Look after yourself and hope things work out well for you.

Sarah x


Dear Lavender

Thank you for posting this question. It is not easy to accept that having suffered with PP you may be vulnerable to experiencing further times when you feel unwell and need help.

I try to remember, there are good things that come out of these times, as we learn more about ourselves and what works for us. Personally I have been through another difficult time when my life seemed to be falling apart again. With the support of my GP family and friends, and accepting medication and counselling help, I have come to know that there is a way through even the most challenging of situations, even when everything seems to be ganging up against me.

So try to remember, you are definitely not alone, and we are all here as evidence of that! Be kind to yourself and try not to worry, all things pass xxx

I'm now going to look at the re think web site, thanks Naomi , it sounds very helpful.


Hi Lavender123. Hope things are getting easier for you as time goes on. One thing I found when ill, although it sounds like a cliche, is that things do get easier over time. Small steps and all that. I'm 3 and a bit years past my episode of pp so can't help on your relapse question I'm afraid. But I did have a course of ECT- for me it was the only thing that brought me out of it, almost like a jumpstart to help me start getting well again. I first had some sessions whilst under a section so it wasn't my choice (tho i'd've had no idea at the time). When I became an informal patient after the section ended, ECT was explained to me quite well by staff on the MBU and with the help of a Patient Information Leaflet. I decided to continue the course as I could see it had been working. Like others have said it's very clinical and the dry-mouth and slight dazed feeling on coming round is about the sum of it. As for memory loss, I lost a month or so in the early days when I have no recollection of anything, on a general ward before transfer to MBU. I think this was the pp rather than ECT, tho I can't be sure. After the course had finished and shortly before I came home, I had an MRI/CT scan (can never remember which!) this was to check any noticeable effects, which there weren't any. It's a very personal choice, but for me ECT was much needed and worked. I hope you are getting some advice on your other meds too, I was also on Lithium til quite recently and the weight gain is a bummer I agree. Hope things are improving for you, take care.


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