Medication is essential for treating and managing postnatal psychosis. Different medications may be used including:
- antipsychotics – assist with both manic symptoms and psychotic symptoms (delusions or hallucinations); these are essential in the first instance
- mood stabilisers – used to stabilise mood and help to reduce the likelihood of relapse
- antidepressants – may also be used to reduce depressive symptoms which are part of a depressive psychosis.
If your psychiatrist prescribes mood stabilisers or antipsychotic medications (such as sodium valproate [Epilim], clozapine or lithium), make sure you talk through the benefits, risks and potential side-effects. Some medications should be avoided or used with caution if you’re breastfeeding.
If you’ve been treated for postnatal psychosis, it’s important to discuss and review medication if you’re planning to get pregnant, during pregnancy and following the birth. Folate supplements are important if you’re taking mood stabilising medications while trying to conceive and in the first trimester of pregnancy (to reduce the small increased risk of birth defects with these medications).
You should always seek advice from a psychiatrist before changing or stopping medication. The decision to stop taking medication should be made in consultation with your psychiatrist, and always as a gradual process – you should never stop suddenly.