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 Marcia Purse

Bipolar Disorder and Post-Partum Disorders

By December 31, 2013

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"Women with bipolar disorder have dramatically elevated rates of postpartum psychosis as well as an increased risk of postpartum depression," says Susan Hatters Friedman, M.D., in an editorial published in this month's edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry. And a study published in the same edition notes that "Research on postpartum mood disorders has ... largely ignored or neglected bipolar II disorder." As a result, say the researchers, women with bipolar postpartum depression are often treated inappropriately with antidepressants alone.

This made me wonder about the women in our community who have had children. Did you experience postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis? If so, how was it treated - and do you think it was the right treatment?

Sharma, V, et al. Bipolar II Postpartum Depression: Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment. American Journal of Psychiatry 166.11 (2009): 1271. Web. 2 Nov 2009.
Friedman, S.H. Postpartum Mood Disorders: Genetic Progress and Treatment Paradigms. American Journal of Psychiatry 166.11 (2009): 1201. Web. 2 Nov 2009.

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November 3, 2009 at 4:39 am
(1) Deborah Taylor says:

When I was first admitted into a pysc ward i was diagnosed as having postnatal depression from the birth of my first child, I had not long given birth to my fourth. It was wrong, bipolar is not specific how it transforms but a big change, ie for me was a marital breakdown, i felt that they were using a scape goat sayin that it was due to the birth of my child. They dont listen to the full story but draw facts from glimpses of information.

November 3, 2009 at 8:41 am
(2) flowerbells says:

I definitely suffered from major postpartum depression. I’m kind of telling this story backwards — background first. In 1964 I gave birth to a daughter. In those days, unmarried women who were pregnant were looked down on by society; at least that’s how I felt. I didn’t get dx’d with bipolar for another 30+ years, so all I knew was that I was too moody and filled with rage to raise a child, so I had arranged to give her up for adoption, as the birth father was not supportive of me. I had a hard time trying unsuccessfully to support myself, was fresh out of college and had no friends locally, no advice on how to raise a child without becoming abusive, and was highly sexual into the bargain. I was daunted. So I gave birth at a Salvation Army home and hospital for unwed mothers. I liked being pregnant, and felt good all through my pregnancy (other than having severe heartburn throughout). The Salvation Army was wonderful, kind, and enjoyable for me, but did not advise on natural childbirth nor give pain killers. I had a book by Grantly Dick-Reed called, I think, “Childbirth Without Pain.” I used this book to do natural childbirth exercises daily, walked a mile each day, and even played volleyball the day before the child was born. I was in great physical and mental condition, at the time I began labor, and during labor. I was in labor for about 18 hours, but it didn’t bother me. Coming out of the delivery room, I was smiling, and my friends at the home were cheering for me. THEN! I crashed. Bad. For the next week I stayed in recovery at the home, which was standard for everyone. However, the other women and girls who delivered there stayed in a room or ward with the others who had just delivered, too. All I did was cry, and cry, and cry and cry some more. I slept, ate and cried. So I was put into a room alone, which is what I needed and wanted. I was isolated from the other women because I could not relate to anyone during that time. It was not, I believe, due to giving my daughter for adoption that caused the depression. I think it was my feeling of utter failure and inadequacy in life. Finally, I was released and flew home to my parents, and things began to get better.

November 3, 2009 at 9:38 am
(3) Anniem says:

After giving birth to my first two children I was happy and well. However, after I had my third child I became increasingly depressed. What must be taken into account is the fact that I was living with my abusive second husband. I felt severely abandoned by him, and he began to beat me. After an attack by him I attempted suicide, convinced that my children would be better off without me. I was put in the psych ward and was diagnosed with major depression. A few months after I was released, with things getting worse at home, I was put back in the hospital. I was diagnosed with manic depression. I was put on sinequan and sent home. I couldn’t take care of an infant and a toddler and a 4 year old on that drug-I couldn’t function. So I took myself off the medication. I have often thought that I had post-partum depression, and that made things worse for me with my life’s circumstances. I think it was triggered by the abuse I was going through. And for a long time I thought the diagnosis of manic depression was wrong. But 10 years later I ended up in the hospital again, and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But specific to what I went through after the birth of my child I have believed for a long time that the issue of hormones during that period of my life was not addressed. I never had any more children.

November 3, 2009 at 11:09 am
(4) Anita Simpson says:

I became severely depressed and out of control following the birth of my daughter. I was physically abuse and could not manage my impulses. My solution to this problem was to get pregnant again, when my daughter was only 6 months old.
The depression after my son’s birth was even worse, and my impulse control even less than before. Two babies in diapers didn’t help! I was still abusive and I went to a mental health clinic. They gave me anti-depressants and I went to a counselor who couldn’t handle the most important problem of abuse; instead, she suggested we focus on weight loss!
It was 8 more years before I was correctly diagnosed as bipolar.

November 3, 2009 at 2:57 pm
(5) goldaun says:

My first baby was born in 1975, By the time he was 2 days old I couldn’t sleep…not even a wink. My OB gave me Valium of all things. It didn’t help me sleep. I was dx’d bipolar but I know I was hypomanic with postpartum psychosis.

November 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm
(6) goldaun says:

Meant to say I was not dx’d bipolar at the time. That didn’t happen until 1989

November 3, 2009 at 8:51 pm
(7) Ann says:

As with many of the comments, the connection was not made. I had my first “major” depression about six months after I was married. I was seeing a therapist. I became pregnant 2-1/2 yeas after we were married. I somehow knew this was going to be a solo journey. I had severe morning sickness (in the ER for IV hydration, etc.) for 5 months. My family doctor asked me if I thought I might be depressed. His calmness and the way he worded it, I didn’t hesitate to say “Yes.” I began seeing him every week – I was only about 5-7 months pregnant. I think it helped me stay above water.

I began to have anxiety attacks – later they feel that they were seizures. I became pregnant 4-5 months postpartum (yes I was on birth control). Again, it has a difficult pregnancy. After the second birth my mother stayed 8 weeks. She felt something was wrong. 11 weeks postpartum I was admitted to the hospital as I couldn’t stop the psychotic thoughts and was afraid of hurting the baby.

My ex husband was put out as he had to care for the children and wanted to know “when I’d get better.” Like a 10 day antibiotic and it would all go away.

In the hospital they marked it as major depression. My youngest had her first BP episode at age 9 and was hospitalized (I was single by then). When she was 14 I found a new Pdoc who has been our family Pdoc since. He dx her with BP and me too after hearing my story. He said I was misdx from the beginning. I began to feel hope (despite going through 2 rounds of my ex suing for custody and child support – another story). My youngest was in and out of the hospital for 4 months and it was a long journey. She is 19 and lives with me – her father won’t make the effort to understand it all. I am exhausted. I would like to live my life. She still is not stable as far as I’m concerned. I am tired of her yelling/screaming every day.

I’m stable and I know when things are going up or down and adapt to it.

November 4, 2009 at 5:12 am
(8) HoosierK says:

I had it after both of my children were born but before I knew that I had bipolar (probably just cyclothymia then). I don’t think I had ever heard of postpartum depression at the time and I sought no treatment but resisted the suicidal urges because my desire to raise my children was stronger. Considering the fact that years later antidepressants drove me to 6 suicide attempts, I think in my case not seeking treatment was a good thing.

November 9, 2009 at 3:13 am
(9) robbi says:

When I had my daughter, I went through a lot of moodswings and I even felt like hurting my child. I wanted to throw her over a railing and even smother her. I talked to my therapist about giving her up for an adoption because I thought I would end up killing her. My therapist said that would be the worst thing I could do. I was trying to protect my child from myself.
I also had bouts of suicide( I thought God was telling me to kill myself). Finally in 1988 I was hospitalized( my first hospitalization) and was a lot better after that, I was 25 then.’
I am happy to say I kept my daughter and I am glad I did. I would have been miserable if I gave her up. She grew up great.

November 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(10) Ali says:

I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder several years ago. My psychiatrist has relocated, and I am looking for a good doctor in San Antonio/ Austin, TX area. Does anyone have a suggestion on a good doctor.

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