Assessing women for puerperal psychosis
The onset of puerperal psychosis may occur up to 12 weeks after the birth. The combination of psychosis and lapsed insight and judgement endangers the safety and wellbeing of the affected woman and her infant and requires urgent, careful assessment.
As puerperal psychosis is a serious and complex mental health disorder, a specialist psychiatrist needs to be consulted.
Diagnosis of puerperal psychosis is based on accepted diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV-TR or ICD-10).
A woman with puerperal psychosis will almost always need to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital setting. Hospital admission facilitates stabilisation of symptoms and initiation of medications with ongoing monitoring by health professionals. Admission to a psychiatric setting with a mother and baby unit is preferable to enable continued contact between mother and baby.