Understanding postpartum psychosis
Raising awareness of a new diagnosis and what it means for clinical practice.
Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that begins suddenly following childbirth. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, high or low mood, or confusion. It affects 1 to 2 pregnancies in every 1000, which adds up to over 1400 women each year in the UK.
An episode of postpartum psychosis can be very frightening for women and their families. Most women go on to make a full recovery but the journey to full recovery can be long and difficult. The care these women receive can vary depending on the available resources. In some countries, there are ‘mother and baby units’ where mothers and their babies are cared for together. In others, support may be given on a psychiatric ward and in other areas, the diagnosis may not even be recognised due to lack of training.
The existing medical classification systems does not recognise ‘postpartum psychosis’ as an independent diagnosis which has impacted on research and treatment. This project, led by our School of Medicine, is funding a webinar for clinicians and patient networks from across Europe to discuss the birth of a new diagnosis of postpartum psychosis and what it means for clinical practice.
The webinar seeks to raise awareness of the current nosology in the classifications systems and proposed changes, to understand the scientific rationale for postpartum psychosis to be classified differently and the latest research and to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of a different classification. Most importantly, it also seeks to understand the perspectives of women with lived experience.
Marisa Casanova Dias
MRC Clinical Research Training Fellow, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences
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