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Phenomenology, Epidemiology and Aetiology of Postpartum Psychosis: A Review

Psychological Medicine, University of Worcester, Worcester WR2 6AJ, UK
National Centre for Mental Health, MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF24 4HQ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(1), 47;
Received: 1 December 2020 / Revised: 18 December 2020 / Accepted: 27 December 2020 / Published: 4 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue At the Frontiers of Bipolar Disorder)
Postpartum psychoses are a severe form of postnatal mood disorders, affecting 1–2 in every 1000 deliveries. These episodes typically present as acute mania or depression with psychosis within the first few weeks of childbirth, which, as life-threatening psychiatric emergencies, can have a significant adverse impact on the mother, baby and wider family. The nosological status of postpartum psychosis remains contentious; however, evidence indicates most episodes to be manifestations of bipolar disorder and a vulnerability to a puerperal trigger. While childbirth appears to be a potent trigger of severe mood disorders, the precise mechanisms by which postpartum psychosis occurs are poorly understood. This review examines the current evidence with respect to potential aetiology and childbirth-related triggers of postpartum psychosis. Findings to date have implicated neurobiological factors, such as hormones, immunological dysregulation, circadian rhythm disruption and genetics, to be important in the pathogenesis of this disorder. Prediction models, informed by prospective cohort studies of high-risk women, are required to identify those at greatest risk of postpartum psychosis. View Full-Text
Keywords: postpartum psychosis; aetiology; triggers postpartum psychosis; aetiology; triggers
MDPI and ACS Style

Perry, A.; Gordon-Smith, K.; Jones, L.; Jones, I. Phenomenology, Epidemiology and Aetiology of Postpartum Psychosis: A Review. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 47.

AMA Style

Perry A, Gordon-Smith K, Jones L, Jones I. Phenomenology, Epidemiology and Aetiology of Postpartum Psychosis: A Review. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(1):47.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Perry, Amy, Katherine Gordon-Smith, Lisa Jones, and Ian Jones. 2021. "Phenomenology, Epidemiology and Aetiology of Postpartum Psychosis: A Review" Brain Sciences 11, no. 1: 47.

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