DOI: 10.1177/02698811231181573 ISSN: 0269-8811

Postpartum psychosis: A proposed treatment algorithm

Chaitra Jairaj, Gertrude Seneviratne, Veerle Bergink, Iris E Sommer, Paola Dazzan
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology


Postpartum psychosis (PPP) is a psychiatric emergency that generally warrants acute inpatient care. PPP is marked by the sudden onset of affective and psychotic symptoms with a rapid deterioration in mental state. Evidence suggests that PPP is a discrete disorder on the bipolar disorder spectrum with a distinct treatment profile and prognosis.


We conducted a PubMed database search for various terms involving PPP and its treatment and included peer-reviewed articles published in English.


To provide a treatment algorithm for the management of PPP based on available evidence.


Pharmacological therapy is the mainstay of PPP management in the acute phase. Evidence points to a combination of antipsychotics and lithium in the acute treatment of PPP. Electroconvulsive therapy can offer a rapid treatment response where required. Lithium appears to have the best evidence for relapse prevention and prophylaxis in PPP. Psychoeducation is essential and psychosocial interventions used in bipolar disorder may be effective in PPP.


Early detection and prompt treatment with antipsychotics and lithium, followed by maintenance treatment with lithium, is associated with a favourable prognosis in PPP.

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