Jun 4, 2018
You’ve heard of postpartum depression, but have you heard of
postpartum psychosis? Do you know the difference and how to
recognize the signs and symptoms? We are talking about a very
difficult mental condition that can wreak havoc on a new mother,
her baby, and her family. Fortunately, there are signs to look for
and ways you can help if someone you know might be experiencing
this rare condition.
In this episode, we are hearing from Tarah, a woman who
experienced postpartum psychosis after the birth of her twins.
Tarah’s mother, Julie, joins this chat, which is the first
mother-daughter duo we’ve had on the show to talk about the
postpartum experience. One or two out of 1000 women will experience
a postpartum psychosis, and while it’s very rare, it is a serious
condition that requires immediate treatment. Most people have been
misled to think that postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis
are synonymous, but they are not. Psychosis is a break from shared
reality and is an emergency situation that looks very different
from postpartum depression.
Tarah and Julie want people to hear their story so they know
what can happen and what to look for. Having them both share their
perspectives gives us insight and deepens our understanding of what
can happen in a family, what the new mother might experience, and
what a family member on the outside might notice. The main point is
that information and a strong support system are vitally important
in surviving this potentially traumatic experience.
Please note that Tarah’s story may be sensitive for some
listeners and is not necessarily what all moms with postpartum
psychosis experience. Resources for support are available and
- Tarah married in 2007 and began trying to have a baby in 2009.
After Clomid and two miscarriages, she experienced a textbook
pregnancy with her twins
- The twins were born almost 4 weeks early and the postpartum
depression began immediately
- Julie noticed how Tarah didn’t want to hold the babies a lot
and seemed disconnected and anxious
- Three days after the twins were born, Julie noticed that Tarah
was not acting normal and took her to the hospital
- The hospital gave Tarah Xanax and an antidepressant and sent
her home, but the symptoms snowballed into psychotic fears and
- Two days later, Julie took Tarah for the 2nd visit to the ER
and they admitted her to treat her exhaustion
- Two hours after Julie went home to rest, the hospital called to
say Tarah had jumped through a window to escape (she was later
found, bleeding, wandering around the parking lot)
- How one doctor nailed the diagnosis and saved Tarah’s life
- Tarah was transported to a behavioral health hospital because
she thought people were out to hurt her
- Julie was given the job of strapping her down to the gurney
because they thought she would accept it better and not fight
- The next day, discussions began about ECT (electroconvulsive
therapy) and heavy medications
- While Tarah did have ECT as treatment, this is not always used.
Everyone's treatment plan looks different.
- For Julie, these were some of the darkest days of her life
- Postpartum psychosis happens to 1-2 in 1000 women: 95% of these
women manifest symptoms like Tarah did, but about 5% do infanticide
while in a psychotic state.
- Tarah’s support system to help her and care for the twins
- The treatment approach of 3 different medications and ECT
- Problems in the hospital unit that prompted Tarah’s move to the
senior citizen unit
- How Tarah was “out of it” for almost 2 weeks, not asking about
- After about 3 weeks, Tarah finally felt that she was returning
- After her release, Julie stayed with her for 6 months and Tarah
was never left alone with the babies. It took about a year to wean
her off the high-powered medications
- How Tarah’s husband was heartbroken but then relieved to get
- Tarah’s feelings of self-blame, but she knew her situation was
out of her control
- Tarah's story is an example of why we need more Postpartum
Mother-Baby hospital units. Mothers need specialized care.
- Support from parents, in-laws, grandparents, friends, and other
- What Tarah and Julie want you to know:
- This is a real condition and not made-up
- Someone you know may need help and not even know it
- People are not aware of postpartum psychosis as something to
There are some risk factors that can help you know if you are
susceptible to a postpartum psychosis or postpartum bipolar onset.
Learn more here...
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, please reach
out to a local organization that supports postpartum women or reach
out to Postpartum Support International (PSI) for information
Postpartum Support International (PSI) www.postpartum.net
If you feel that your family member is experiencing some of the
symptoms of postpartum psychosis, please take them to medical care
PSI also has a specialized support coordinator, providing
non-emergency support to women and families dealing with postpartum
psychosis: Michele Davidson, PhD, CNM, CFN, RN--703-298-3247 or
Mind Connection FB Group