Action on Postpartum Psychosis
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Has anyone had short episodes of psychosis?

I have just resently had two episodes of PP and on both occasions they psychosis only lasted around 48 hours. The first episode was more dramatic than the second one. Has any one else had such a sort episode of the psychosis?

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Hi Nink

My bosses wife experienced exactly the same thing. A very short acute psychosis following delivery lasting just two days. They reckon it might have had a lot to do with having no food, long delivery, blood loss and most of the pain relief being opiate based - pethadine, epidural. So ikely to be related to these factors.

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Hi Nink, I haven't heard of such a short psychosis but I'm not a 'medical' person. You must have been so relieved. I had two episodes. I can only remember flashes of my illness as I had ECT but I do remember endless days trying to convince my family that I knew things had happened in the news before they were televised!!

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We're these episodes of psychosis after childbirth and what sort of treatment did you receive? By that I mean have you had two children or was it two episodes separated in time after one birth? Hope you're well now and have support in place,

Vix

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Hi Vix 28, Sorry I didn't explain myself very well. My episodes were a long time ago in the mid 70's and early 80's following childbirth. Both knocked me off my feet and with the first I went to stay with my parents. Unfortunately my own G.P would not visit me as I was then out of his area and my parents' G.P. wouldn't visit as I was not his patient. That was back in the day when there were no mother and baby units, so nowadays there are more treatment options available. Due to self harm after hearing voices I was sectioned on both occasions.

It was a long journey but thankfullly I recovered without knowing until the 90's that I had suffered PP all those years ago. Ashamed of myself, compared to other women who had 'sailed' through labour and following months, until I met Dr Jones and his APP team who lifted the weight I had carried for years.

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Hi Nink,

I haven't met anyone that that has happened to either but I do know it can happen. Thanks for your comments Bella1 & Lillybeth, & yes it must've been a relief in a way that it ended quickly. How recently was it & how are you feeling now Nink?

I don't think much is known about it in terms of academic research & I'd be really interested to know more about it. Can I ask, how long after giving birth did it happen to you? Did it happen after your first child & then again after your second child & did you go on to have depression afterwards? If you can explain a bit more, that'd be great.

Hopefully explaining a bit more about your experiences will help other women who have similar experiences to yours to talk openly about it. I look forward to finding out if any others here have had episodes like this,

Best wishes,

A x

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Sorry Vix, I saw your post after I'd posted mine, asking the same really... :-)

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We've had two children. My wife had a long period of illness with the first one and a very short period - like you - with the second. Since then she's had both short and long recurrences. It seems to me the difference between the episodes is the time it took to get treatment, but I could easily be wrong.

Andy

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Thanks for all your replies.

I had my first and only bundle of joy in April 2012. I think I was suffering from PD within a few weeks after birth. My labour went very well and followed my birthing plan. My mood in the evenings were very up and down, I would be very snappy with my husband at times. This is completely out of character for me and I just put it down to lack of sleep.

It all came to a head on Christmas Eve 2012 when i could barely function, as I wasn't getting any sleep. I was doing Christmas Dinner for all the in laws and I was panicking about getting through Christmas Day. I spoke with my husband and told him how I was feeling.

My husband helped with the prep on that evening and wrote a list with all the timings.

I got up Christmas Day and felt absolutely drained. I did get through the day but it was hectic with 6 adults, and 4 children (aged 7 months, 9 months, 2 years & 3 years). On Boxing Day I had my family round for a buffi lunch. When they arrived I could not focus on what any one was saying and I was getting frustrated. I ended up in tears and told them what was wrong. I was then panicking because I was looking after my 2 year old nephew for next two days on my own, along with my son. My mum said she would come round had help. I was not any better for those two days still had no sleep.

I don't remember any of the 29th. I know the I had my son and that husband worked. That night my husband took me to a walk in centre and asked for sleeping tablets. I did not want to go and was convinced they would take my baby. I was given zopiclone and did get some sleep. My husband then did the night feeds.

On the 30th I was convinced that someone was injecting drugs into my baby and my husband. I told my husband that there was a drug dealer in our sons bedroom and not to go in because he would get injected. I then just became more and more deluded.

I was taken to hospital by ambulance and after 39 hours I was sectioned an taken to a mental health unit. On Tue the 1st i could remember most of what happen but was so shocked.

They put me on100g of sertaline & 450g of quetiapine which im still on. I was given leave off the ward that day to see my son. For a few weeks I was off and on ward. I was supposed to be starting back to work on the 2nd jan and my son was to go to nursery for the first time.

I was stress about this pre Chistmas so husband put our son nursery any way. He was apsoulty fine and loves it. My employers were supportive but wanted me to return to work on the 11 Feb for 3 days as the accountants were coming to the office and I'm the accounts manager.

I agreed to go in but on Sunday the 10th I did not sleep again and I was really anxious. everything had change and I could not do basic things and ended to just sat there crying. I went home at lunch time and just contuied crying until my husband came home that night.

The next day I went to my mother in laws when the psychosis started again. The doctor was called and I was readmitted to the mental health ward,I hardly remember this day.

I remaind in the hospital for a week then was given leave for a week. Everything went well apart form being a little anxious. I was discharged this week on Tue 26th Feb and everything has been fine since. I have set my self a goal to return to work on the 18th March but doing it in stages.

I was wondering if anyone has had psychosis for short lengths of time and if a full recovery would be shorter.

Sorry I've end up telling you most of my story here.

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My psychosis was short too, but I had other compounding factors, of anxiety and depression. I honestly can't imagine going back to work after such a short time. I am still recovering three yrs later! And it has taken me ages to learn how to know what I am feeling and how to say "no, I cant do that" and for me to know that that's fine. Its also taken me ages to learn what symptoms I experience if I am going down into a dip...sometimes I dont know how I am feeling, so I rely on these symptoms to let me know. For me they are things like bursts of frustration and anger, inability to make decisions, difficulty with simple tasks.

Anyway, yes a full recovery I guess is normally shorter if you have a short psychotic episode, but I would also say there is prob not much normal range :-) as there can be so many contributing factors...for me, things like how busy life is, how I naturally function, how I was before the psychosis, my medical support, all have made a big difference.

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Hi Nink,

Thank you for writing your experiences, gosh, you've been through so much! How are you feeling now?

I do think that recovery is improved with quicker treatment & shorter psychosis & it's really good that's it's caught early. I think that any psychosis takes quite some getting over though so it's really important to take extra care of ourselves, get plenty of sleep & don't put ourselves under too much emotional pressure.

Going back to work after being so ill can be very difficult, but doing it in stages sound like a really good plan. I can imagine you feel very anxious about this (I certainly did!), so it's really important that you take good care of yourself, get plenty of rest & take it steady. It's bound to feel strange & different when you go back but once you get there I'm sure you'll quickly get back into it. I always think that first day back is the worst & once that's over, you soon find your feet. There're some good tips on managing anxiety here: mind.org.uk/mental_health_a...

Hopefully more will come on here & share any experiences of shorter psychosis episodes.

All the best with going back to work, take care & let us know how you get on.

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Just to keep you updated I started back to as planned and all is going well so far. I have my first appointment with the home mental health teams consultant on Friday. I do still feel anxious at times. All is going well so far and I'm hopping this with continue. There were some discrimination against at work which found out about on my return. This just made me more determine. A month has nearly passed now and things feel much more like the old days pre PP.

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thats great. Hope you continue to slowly improve :-)

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Hi Nink, I'm fairly new to this site and am slowly reading my way through all the posts. So, I apologize for such a delayed response!

I experienced a very short psychotic episode several weeks after a miscarriage, in the time between having my first and second child. I was under a lot of stress at work at the time as well, which may have contributed to triggering a psychosis (in addition to the hormonal imbalance caused by my miscarriage). I had PP and PPD after each child, but this short episode in between those births, was very different from those experiences. It only lasted over a weekend and my condition completely resolved all on its own with no medical intervention or medication whatsoever. I returned to work the next week like nothing had happened, and no one ever knew any different.

During this episode, I heard voices for approximately 48hrs, but was still in touch with reality, and knew I should not be hearing voices. In fact, I felt so much like my normal self (aside from hearing voices) that I even managed to host my child's second birthday party for 40 family members and close friends with no one noticing anything amiss with me the entire evening! I didn't recognize this episode as being a psychosis until a couple of years after the fact, because it was such a meaningful spiritual experience, and it felt very real. I never told anyone about it at the time, not even my husband. When I finally did make the connection, I told my psychiatrist about it. She said that she had never heard of anyone being psychotic for a weekend and then spontaneously recovering without intervention before, but agreed that it may happen, but people may just keep it to themselves like I did.

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Hi dd2013

Thank you so much for sharing your story. It's really important people know that you can come out of a psychosis and make a successful (and speedy) recovery without medication. Most people dont get the chance to let nature take its course without chemical intervention. I think you are so lucky to have escaped the clutches of antipsychotics. The more I read, the more I am convinced that the antipsychotics (which numb every part of your being and have nasty side effects) CAUSE the problems people often experience after an episode of psychosis, like depression and bi polar.

In my case, like Ninks, the psychosis was a natural reaction to severe and prolonged stress and very little sleep. I too came out of my psychosis quite quickly after a good, albeit drug induced, sleep. While out of the psychosis my psychiatrist convinced me that Id have to take olanzapine for a whole year to prevent a relapse, despite how terribly numb it made me feel, the weight gain and the other undesirable effects. I'm convinced that the high and prolonged dosage of Olanzapine has done damage which I fear is irreversible given I'm off the meds now for 7 months and I'm still not back to work, have poorer memory, diminished libido, slower metabolism, diminished powers of concentration and symptoms of depression - all of which came after taking anti psychotics.

I dont think antipsychotics can be good when studies indicate that they (olanzapine and haliperidol) caused brain shrinkage in monkeys and rats and alter the gut microbiome. Apparently there is no evidence that psychosis / schizophrenia is caused by a chemical dopamine imbalance. Yet people are treated with chemicals that block dopamine receptors and thereby "fix" chemical imbalances (that probably don't exist in the first place) and thereby cause chemical imbalances!!

Its interesting that Finland has the lowest relapse rates and the best 5 year outcomes for patients diagnosed with psychosis. There they rely primarily on a therapy called Open Dialogue, antipsychotics are used only in the acute phase, or not at all.

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Hi Emero and welcome to the forum,

Thanks for your reply on this and for sharing your experience. I'm sorry to hear that you had a negative experience of taking medication in relation to your psychosis in reaction to severe and prolonged stress and very little sleep. I hope you don't mind me asking, did you experience postpartum psychosis, after the birth of a baby? This forum's aim is to support those who have experienced this type of psychosis, and their families, although I know that some people have experienced episodes at other times. There is some more info on PP here from the APP website: app-network.org/what-is-pp/

In my experience, when I had PP "out of the blue" 8 years ago now, I was not able to treated any other way than with medication. I became dangerously unwell both physically as well as mentally, due to the delusions, mania and other symptoms I was experiencing and was sectioned to hospital. My treatment included anti-psychotics amongst other things, and whilst some do not need this, as PP is a severe and potentially life-threatening illness, it does usually require urgent treatment. I know I wouldn't be here now without it, no matter how much the side-effects of meds were tough to live with in recovery. It is a very personal decision, but also one that must be taken in consultation with professionals where possible. Some of the FAQs on this link may also be useful to you: app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

But the main thing, as you have said, is that people do recover from a psychosis and I also had a second child, with no recurrence and do not have any other mental health diagnosis (and have remained well since, albeit with an increased awareness of my mental health that I had never expected to have).

Take care, xx

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Hi Emero

Welcome too to the forum, and thanks for sharing your experience.

You raise some interesting points about medication. I personally feel that each person's situation and experience of PP is so individual, individual experiences of the psychosis and also different reactions to medication though of course there are many common factors. It's really important that mum's get good advice, from a specialist perinatal psychiatrist ideally, to be able to weigh up all options for their treatment and make an informed decision.

For my self, personally, I experienced PP very suddenly and acutely when my son was just 3 days old. I had no previous experience of mental ill health. I know that I would have been psychotic for much longer if I hadn't taken Olanzapine. I found the psychosis really scary and traumatic, with many really disturbing delusions, and I am so thankful that I didn't have to experience more of it than I did, because of Olanzapine being so affective with bringing the psychosis under control.

Research shows that in cases of PP the psychotic episodes are often more acute and have a more rapid onset than other episodes of psychosis. Coupled with the mum needing to look after and bond with a new born, it is felt that mum's really need to get as well as soon as possible in order to look after and bond with their baby, which is why psychiatrists recommend anti psychotics, and for a good length of time. It's so important mum's get specialist advice and support from a perinatal psychiatrist so they can make an informed decision about treatment, that is right for them.

I did suffer from depression afterwards. After about 6 weeks I had a massive dip and it took many months to recover from this, but many mum's don't experience depression afterwards. I personally feel that my depression was a reaction to the trauma of the psychosis, and the fear and anxiety of becoming psychotic again, rather than a reaction to taking an anti-psychotic drug.

I did attend a conference about Open Dialogue a couple of years ago which was really interesting (For those who don't know, from what I remember, in open dialogue nothing is discussed about the patient without the patient there, so if professionals have disagreements about treatment this would be discussed openly in front of and with the patient and their support network, it also involved the person's support network in meetings and their treatment etc). To me, it seemed like a really holistic and respectful model of working. I didn't get the impression that it was either/or though in terms of medication, but rather in addition to, as equally important as medication. For me, as I have said, medication was essential to getting better, but absolutely equally important was the support I got in the MBU, from my CPN, CBT sessions with a psychologist, and the support I got from family and friends, and last but not least the peer support I found through APP.

I also wanted to say that for me personally it's been important to remember and to hear stories of women who experienced PP before anti psychotics were invented and before the start of the NHS. Many women just never recovered from PP, and spent many years in mental asylums, still experiencing psychosis, never able to have a relationship with their child. There is one such story on our personal experiences page which is really tragic. Reading it I am always so thankful that I was born in a time with NHS treatment, and with the drugs that are available now: app-network.org/personal-ex...

I hope you don't mind me sharing these experiences and stories, and thanks so much for sharing your experience too.

Ellie

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Hi, I had ppp after delivering my son and it lasted around 3 days, I was very unwell in that time; delusions, hallucinations, voices etc but was very lucky to respond to the first medication that was tried (olanzipine) I stayed on this for two months at Dr advice (gained a further two stone) and was left anxious but able to cope. I was still in hospital thankfully so was never admitted.

I still feel like despite it being ‘only’ a few days my entire sense of self was shifted, it was a lot to deal with on top of becoming a parent and took a long time to make sense of and accept.

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