A new South Australian study of women with the most severe form of postpartum psychiatric illness has revealed that this particular approach leads to a complete recovery, usually within a few weeks.
The five-year-long study was conducted at the mother and baby unit at South Australia’s Helen Mayo House, SBS reports.
The study findings are incredibly hopeful, revealing that with correct treatment, every single woman admitted to Helen Mayo House with postpartum psychosis (between 2012 and 2016) recovered fully.
Not only that, they were able to care for their babies beautifully – and independently – after discharge from the treatment program.
“Although it’s a shocking and terrible condition that no one would want, there is extremely effective treatment so that women can make a recovery quite quickly and return to normal life,” Dr Rebecca Hill from Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Health Network said.
You might have heard of postpartum depression, but what about postpartum psychosis?It's a condition that affects 1 in 500 new mothers within the first two weeks of delivery, and symptoms include paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.
Posted by ABC News on Saturday, 22 April 2017
Keeping mother and baby together during treatment was apparently an absolutely vital part of the womens’ recovery. The mums also received one-on-one nursing care, anti-psychotic medication, and – in some cases – lithium to stabilise moods, as part of their treatment.
“On the whole, mothers made a complete recovery and did so within weeks. The average length of stay was about three weeks,” Dr Hill explained.
The support mothers received paid dividends in other areas, too.
“Amazingly, breastfeeding rates were highly preserved, with 77 per cent of women still breastfeeding at the time of discharge,” Dr Hill said.
More mother and baby units needed
The study results will be presented this week at The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists Annual Congress, and highlights the need for more mental health care units for new mothers, and the importance of early intervention and treatment.
“In NSW, there is no public mother-baby unit so they have absolutely no option to receive treatment with their baby,” Dr Hill explained.
“There is a sort of an inequity across Australia in terms of that access to care and that can make a huge difference to the mother-baby relationship over time.”
If women get the support they need, as quickly as possible after symptoms occur, they can recover quickly and get on with the important business of bonding with and raising their babies.
What is postpartum psychosis?
Postpartum psychosis is a severe mental illness that can affect a woman after she has a baby. It may cause her to lose touch with reality, have hallucinations and suffer from delusional thinking.
Postpartum psychosis, if untreated, can result in injury to mother and/or child and in some cases can be fatal. It’s vital to seek medical assistance as quickly as possible, if you suspect a woman you know is suffering from this illness.
Symptoms of postpartum psychosis
- Delusions or strange beliefs
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Feeling very irritated
- Decreased need for, or inability to sleep
- Paranoia and suspiciousness
- Rapid mood swings
- Difficulty communicating at times
First steps to getting help
If you think the new mother you know might be exhibiting symptoms of postpartum psychosis – or is generally not herself and you are worried – please seek help from your GP or call PANDA for advice.
Support and treatment is absolutely vital for mother and baby’s wellbeing, so don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals. They can assess the situation, advise best next steps and connect to the appropriate mental health services to support the family in question and facilitate treatment and recovery.
If you’ve had a baby recently and are worried about your own mental health, or that of someone you care about, please don’t be afraid to reach out. PANDA are waiting for your call and want to help.