Postpartum psychiatric disorders

Lancet. 2004 Jan 24;363(9405):303-10. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)15390-1.


This review summarises the psychiatry of the puerperium, in the light of publications during the past 5 years. A wide variety of disorders are seen. Recognition of disorders of the mother-infant relationship is important, because these have pernicious long-term effects but generally respond to treatment. Psychoses complicate about one in 1000 deliveries. The most common is related to manic depression, in which neuroleptic drugs should be used with caution. Post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessions of child harm, and a range of anxiety disorders all require specific psychological treatments. Postpartum depression necessitates thorough exploration. Cessation of breastfeeding is not necessary, because most antidepressant drugs seem not to affect the infant. Controlled trials have shown the benefit of involving the child's father in therapy and of interventions promoting interaction between mother and infant. Owing to its complexity, multidisciplinary specialist teams have an important place in postpartum psychiatry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy
  • Depression, Postpartum / drug therapy
  • Depression, Postpartum / therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infanticide / psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Obsessive Behavior / therapy
  • Patient Care Team
  • Puerperal Disorders* / therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents