What are the Signs and Symptoms Experienced by Women with Psychosis?
During a psychotic episode, the woman may experience:
- visual hallucinations: seeing things that are not there
- auditory hallucinations: hearing voices when nobody is around
- delusions: beliefs held with strong conviction, despite conflicting evidence to the contrary (e.g. someone is trying to harm her or that her baby is the devil), grandiosity (eg having special abilities or powers), control (eg being controlled by forces or other individuals)
- disordered thoughts: illogical or chaotic thoughts
- disorganised speech : moving quickly from one topic to the next or with garbled, incomprehensible speech
- disordered behaviors: disruptive or disorganized behaviors
Symptoms during the perinatal period are similar to psychotic symptoms that may have been experienced at other times although the distorted thoughts and behaviours may involve the baby, creating additional risk that healthcare providers and the woman’s family need to be aware of. If this is the first time that the woman, her partner or family have experienced or witnessed psychotic symptoms, it can be frightening. Immediate help is needed (see below) but the risks and impacts can be managed.
If you are concerned about the ‘Signs and Symptoms’ described above in any woman you are caring for during pregnancy or postpartum, immediate help is needed. Talk urgently to your family physician or take the woman to the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital.