"You might think you will never be your old self again but that really isn't the case. You will recover. There is help. Stay strong."
On this page
- When will I get better?
- Early days
- Continuing treatment at home
- Rebuilding confidence
- Will it come back?
With the right treatment, you can make a full recovery from postpartum psychosis. Our guide to recovery has lots more information and suggestions to help you.
If you are a partner, family member or friend of someone recovering from postpartum psychosis, you may find our page on supporting someone with PP helpful.
When will I get better?
It can take 6-12 months or more to recover from postpartum psychosis. The most severe symptoms tend to last between two and 12 weeks. Almost all women will recover fully.
Postpartum psychosis is often followed by a period of depression, anxiety and low social confidence. It can take time to come to terms with what has happened to you. It’s normal to feel some sadness at missing out on early motherhood. It can take time to rebuild confidence in relationships and friendships. But most women do get back to feeling like their usual selves again.
The early days after being diagnosed and/or receiving treatment are likely to be full of mixed emotions.
"All these feelings of guilt because you missed out, on not being there for your new born baby and because you left your husband to deal with it when it’s the first time for him too."
Making sense of what has happened
You may feel a sense of confusion about the events of your baby’s birth and illness.
- Ask your mental health team for a summary of events and treatment.
- When you feel ready, talk to your partner or family about what happened too.
- You might find it helpful to talk things through with a peer supporter who has recovered from PP. Ask for support from APP here.
Coming to terms with shocking or traumatic behaviour
Many women behave in ways that are really out of character during an episode of PP. These experiences are usual symptoms of the illness but you still might feel embarrassed or shocked afterwards.
- Talking things through with your partner, a health professional or counsellor might help.
- You might also like to read others' stories and information on common symptoms of PP. This can help remind you that these were symptoms of the illness and not a permanent change in you.
"That psychologically stayed with me, being outside in my pyjamas. It’s like the ultimate image of a mental patient."
Feeling knocked in your confidence as a mum
The first weeks at home can be daunting and it’s important to have practical help. You will need time to rebuild your own self-belief too. Remember your baby knows you and has a special bond with you built before birth. Our information on parenting after PP might help too.
As medication begins to take effect and recovery begins, many women say they feel physically and emotionally drained. Try to get as much rest as possible. As well as a new baby you have had a serious illness so it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourself.
- Share responsibility for night feeds if you can.
- Seek out practical help from friends, family or a HomeStart volunteer.
- Taking medication at bedtime may help reduce sleepiness in the day.
"I just thought once I’m out of hospital and the really delusional bit had gone that it’s all going to be fine and then actually the deep deep depression afterwards was just such a blow, such a double whammy."
Anxieties about the future
Recovery might feel a long way off at the moment. You will get there. Almost all women who have PP recover fully. Many say it has helped them understand better what is important in life and has made them stronger in the long term. There are no known adverse effects of having PP on your baby.
If you find that feelings of anxiety or low mood are overwhelming or you have concerns that you are relapsing, don’t wait for your next appointment. Ask to see your psychiatrist at the earliest available appointment.
Continuing treatment at home
Most women who have recovered say that medication was vital to their recovery. We have more information about medication during recovery here and in our recovery guide.
During recovery you will probably continue to receive support from mental health services. When you leave hospital, a plan should be put in place to support you at home.
Visits or appointments may seem intrusive and you might worry that your ‘performance’ as a mum is being monitored. It’s totally normal to feel like this. Talk to your health visitor or midwife if you need reassurance. It’s also ok to ask for specific advice to help you bond more with your baby.
In the first year of recovery, you may want to speak to a counsellor about your experience of postpartum psychosis. Going through such a serious illness can impact on your sense of self, your relationship and your confidence as a mum. Accessing talking treatments on the NHS can be difficult but there are a number of options to think about.
- Your GP or psychiatrist may be able to refer you for a talking treatment such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Relate offer counselling for couples and individuals about managing the impact of your illness on your relationship.
- Private counsellors can be expensive but if you can afford it they can offer long-term therapy to talk about the trauma of illness.
If you do not get on with a counsellor you have been given, try someone else. A counsellor with a different approach, level of knowledge or personality may help you more.
Ups and downs and depression
The first six months to a year can include a lot of ups and downs in your mood. These can feel like a real setback. Try to remember that all mums of young children have good and bad days.
It can help to try and keep a regular routine of activities, set yourself small goals and keep a mood diary to help you get to know yourself. Don’t feel guilty about asking health professionals to talk through any concerns.
Sadly, symptoms of depression can occur after an episode of postpartum psychosis. Depression is a common response to a traumatic experience and can also be caused by disruption to your brain chemistry following psychosis or mania. Ask about treatment to reduce symptoms of depression as soon as you can.
Treatments for depression include mood stabilising medication, anti depressant medication and talking therapy. Make sure you talk to your GP or your mental health team as soon as possible if you begin to feel very agitated or have thoughts of suicide while you are having treatment for depression.
Keep doing as much as you feel able to with your child, even if it feels like a struggle. It can sometimes be a good distraction.
As you recover, you may really want to talk to other mums who have experienced mental health problems and understand what you have been through. To get in contact with another mum who has recovered from PP, visit our peer support page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In time, you may want to think about writing your story down.
Getting to know other parents can really help if you feel isolated. Use parents' networks to find out what is going on in your local area. Places like Mumsnet, Netmums and Facebook often have local groups.
Our recovery guide has more information and support to help you move on after PP and think about the future.
"Now I feel I’ve fully recovered. Since my son turned seven months I’ve been so active with him, visiting friends, going to baby groups. I love being a mum and I feel like I’ve been making up for lost time – doing all the normal things new mums do."
Will it come back?
If you have had postpartum psychosis, you have a higher risk of developing it again if you have another child. This risk is even higher if you have had previous episodes of bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia unrelated to childbirth. We have a dedicated page plus a guide on planning pregnancy for women at high risk of postpartum psychosis which both have more information and support.
Other episodes of mental illness
Just over half of women who have had postpartum psychosis will experience an episode of depression, bipolar or related illness at some point in their life. This estimate includes women with and without experience of mental illness before they had PP. This means the risk may be lower for you if you have not had a mental illness before PP.
Postpartum psychosis and the menopause