The majority of cases occur within the first 2–4 weeks after childbirth with a classic 10–14 day meltdown, likely caused by the radical hormonal changes combined with neurotransmitter overactivity. When correctly diagnosed at the earliest signs and immediately treated with anti-psychotic medication, the illness is recoverable within a few weeks. If undiagnosed, even for just a few days, it can take the woman months to recover. In cases of postpartum psychosis, the sufferer is often unaware that she is unwell.
Whilst postpartum/puerperal psychosis is a serious psychiatric illness, the risks of a mother suffering this illness harming her baby are low: infanticide rates are estimated at 4%, and suicide rates in postpartum/puerperal psychosis are estimated at 5%.
Only 1 to 2 women per 1,000 births (.1% to .2% of births) develop postpartum psychosis.
After the National Organization for Women (NOW) noted on their website that Andrea Yates had postpartum depression, the Individualist Feminists of Ifeminist.com quickly pointed out that Yates suffered from postpartum psychosis, a more serious and much less common disorder, and that the clinical definition of postpartum depression does not list infantcide as a symptom. After Ifeminist.com pointed out that this misrepresentation of Yates' illness stigmatized a large number of mothers and made them less likely to seek professional help for fear of being seen as a threat to their children and consequently being committed, NOW promptly revised their statement to include postpartum psychosis. Numerous media outlets alleged that Yates' minister, Michael Peter Woroniecki, bears some responsibility for the deaths, reporting that he and his wife built a framework of homicidal and suicidal delusions in Yates' impressionably ill mind through "relentless gloom and doom sermonizing. She had come to believe that she was a "bad mother" who was spiritually and behaviorally damaging her children, and that it was better to kill herself and her offspring rather than to allow them to continue "stumbling" and go to hell--a staple of her minister's teaching to parents found on his 1996 video, which the Yates both received from him and watched.
Health: Coping When Birth Turns Mum Manic; Ros Dodd Discusses an Illness That Goes Far beyond Post- Natal Depression
Jul 10, 1999; Pregnancy suited Jackie Benjamin. The qualified lawyer "glowed" during the nine months she was expecting her first child and she...