PowerPoint slides

The risks for women with bipolar
o postpartum psychosis occurs in 25% or 1 in 4 births after
o Postnatal depression follows another 25%
o therefore about 50% or 1 in 2 women with bipolar stay well after
o having a baby and about 50% are likely to have an episode of illness
o 2 groups of women are at even higher risk:
o those who have had a postpartum episode before and
o those with close relative who has suffered a postpartum psychosis
What is Postpartum Psychosis?
o Can include manic or depressive symptoms or very often a mixture of
o symptoms include:
o rapid changes in mood
o restlessness and agitation
o inability to sleep
o unusual behaviour, losing your inhibitions
o feeling anxious, irritable, suspicious or paranoid
o delusions – odd thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true
o hallucinations – seeing, hearing or feeling things that aren’t really there
Symptoms usually start within days of the birth, whereas
postnatal depression may start up to 6 months following
the birth
BBC Radio 4
‘Unravelling Eve’
Listen on the APP site
Home page
Unravelling Eve is a Radio 4 documentary about a project
funded by the Wellcome Trust which explores postpartum
psychosis with Prof. Ian Jones and others, including a
group of women who have experienced the illness and
who talk openly about their journey back to recovery.
Why research is
What are the causes
of these postpartum
episodes of illness?
Causes of Postpartum Psychosis
Unclear: we don’t know why bipolar disorder is so associated
with postpartum psychosis, though
we know there is a genetic component
we know there are ‘triggers’ for the illness
o Likely that the massive changes in hormone levels that occur
after birth are a significant reason
o the sleep disturbance that inevitably comes with a new baby
o the fact that many women stop or change medication to
Bipolar disorder, Pregnancy and Childbirth
Having a baby is a major event in the life of any woman. For those with bipolar disorder (manic depression) there are a number
of additional issues. Women with bipolar disorder and their families have many questions but can find it difficult to get the
answers they need. There are many questions including:
Will having a baby mean I will become ill?
Will my children develop bipolar disorder?
What effects will the medication I am taking have on my baby?
In this leaflet we will pose and attempt to answer some of the more common questions asked by women with bipolar disorder
considering having a baby. Each woman’s experience and circumstances are unique. It is not possible to give answers that will
apply to every woman – rather we will raise some of the important issues and emphasise the importance of discussing them
with both professionals involved in your care and with key people in your life like your partner and family.
First of all, despite the important issues discussed in this leaflet, we do not want to give the impression that women with bipolar
disorder should avoid having children. Many such women are very glad that they have had a family and make excellent mothers.
Indeed the majority of women with bipolar disorder thinking of starting a family, when presented with all the relevant information,
make the decision to try for a baby.
What should I do if I am thinking of trying for a baby?
Ideally, it is best to discuss your thoughts about getting pregnant with your GP and psychiatric team before trying for a baby.
Some psychiatrists and other mental health workers have a special interest in psychiatric illness and childbirth (sometimes
called Perinatal Psychiatry). In the UK there are a number of excellent Perinatal Mental Health teams but unfortunately
most areas are not covered.
o Accurate up to date information
o Personal stories of recovery
o Online forum for peer support
o Videos, podcasts, signposting
o Information on latest research and services
Run by researchers and women recovered from
Postpartum Psychosis
PP is rare but not that rare
• Around 1400 cases occur each year in the UK
• An average size maternity unit would see 8-10
cases of rapid onset psychosis following
childbirth in a year
• Episodes of severe mental illness such as
mania or psychosis follow 1-2 in 1000
APP’s aims:
o To raise awareness of the condition among
health professionals and the general public
o To provide up to date information to women
who have experienced PP and their families
o To support those women and families via our
online forum and peer support programmes
o To facilitate research into all aspects of PP
020 7931 6480
020 33229900

similar documents