As Trustees of Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP), the national charity for severe postnatal mental illness in the UK, we would like to applaud the Sunday Times for publishing an article raising awareness of this little-known condition. We commend the bravery of each family who took part, and thank the Sunday Times for telling their stories in a compassionate and informative way.
The objective of APP is to ensure that high-quality information about Postpartum Psychosis is available to both professionals and members of the public. We feel it is important to make clear that infanticide is an extremely rare and tragic outcome of Postpartum Psychosis. Not all women with this diagnosis will experience thoughts or impulses of harming their baby. While understanding the need to emphasize the seriousness of this condition, we feel that the phrase “can turn mothers into murderers” is both misleading and stigmatizing.
Early warning signs of Postpartum Psychosis are often an inability to sleep, euphoria or high mood, or mixed episodes of both high and low (depressed) mood. It is incorrect to say that in most women the symptoms “pass within days or weeks”. The condition often escalates rapidly, and as such must be taken seriously and treated as a psychiatric emergency.
The good news, as Jo Lyall’s story illustrates, is that the majority of women who receive the right treatment do very well in their recovery and go on to bond with their babies and enjoy motherhood. The standard of treatment we believe should be available to all women is admission to a Mother & Baby Unit, and medication as well as psychological support.
Naomi Gilbert, Sarah Dearden, Clare Dolman, Andrea Lambert and Nicola Muckelroy - Trustees of APP with personal experience of Postpartum Psychosis