Antipsychotics in Postpartum Psychosis

Am J Ther. 2020 Jun 22;28(3):e341-e348. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000001218.


Background: Psychotic episodes in the postpartum period are life-threatening psychiatric emergencies, requiring urgent medical attention and admission to a psychiatric hospital.

Areas of uncertainty: Although the postpartum psychosis (PPP) is the most severe psychiatric disorder associated with parturition, there is little information about what interventions are most effective. Because there are no specific guidelines for the treatment of PPP, the aim of the present review was to examine the available evidence regarding the treatment of PPP.

Data sources: The PubMed database was searched based on the title and the abstract, using the key words "postpartum psychosis," "postpartum psychosis antipsychotics," "postpartum psychosis treatment," and "postpartum psychosis pharmacotherapy," for both interventional and observational, irrespective of language.

Results: A number of 14 publications met the study criteria, including case reports and case series. The antipsychotics (APs) use included both first generation APs, such as haloperidol and chlorpromazine, and second generation APs, mainly, olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone. The most frequently used AP was olanzapine. Olanzapine and quetiapine seem to be the most acceptable during breastfeeding. Proposed treatment algorithms for the successful management of PPP are discussed.

Conclusions: The existing studies to date do not allow to draw a definitive conclusion regarding which treatment is the most effective or the most adequate. Existing evidence suggests that APs alone or in combination are responsible for sustained remission and that treated PPP has a higher pace of improvement of the mental status, with a rapid discharge from the hospital. Clinical studies to compare the efficacy and safety of different APs in the PPP are needed to provide guidance on treatment interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antipsychotic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Olanzapine
  • Postpartum Period
  • Psychotic Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Quetiapine Fumarate / therapeutic use
  • Risperidone


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Quetiapine Fumarate
  • Risperidone
  • Olanzapine