Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 89–98

Interventions for the prevention and treatment of postpartum psychosis: a systematic review

  • Shelley Doucet
  • Ian Jones
  • Nicole Letourneau
  • Cindy-Lee Dennis
  • Emma Robertson Blackmore
Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00737-010-0199-6

Cite this article as:
Doucet, S., Jones, I., Letourneau, N. et al. Arch Womens Ment Health (2011) 14: 89. doi:10.1007/s00737-010-0199-6


Postpartum psychosis is a serious disorder that can cause negative consequences for the mother, infant, and entire family. While reports of this condition date back for centuries, little is known about what interventions are most effective for this population. The purpose of this systematic review was to examine the research evidence on interventions for the prevention and treatment of postpartum psychosis. Studies were searched using CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and PubMed databases. All primary research studies published in English since 1970 that explored interventions for the prevention or treatment of postpartum psychosis were included. The search resulted in 26 studies on interventions for postpartum psychosis, with 10 focusing on prevention and 17 focusing on treatment. Studies on the prevention of postpartum psychosis have examined the effects of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and hormone therapy, while those examining treatment have included electroconvulsive therapy, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, hormones, and the beta blocker propranolol. Only preliminary evidence suggests which interventions may be effective strategies to prevent (e.g., lithium) and treat (e.g., electroconvulsive therapy) postpartum psychosis. Due to methodological limitations in the studies reviewed, extensive evidence-based recommendations for the prevention and treatment of postpartum psychosis cannot be made. The known risk factors and negative consequences of postpartum psychosis point to the importance of preventative and acute treatment measures. Well-designed prospective studies are needed to determine the efficacy of prevention and treatment interventions for women who experience postpartum psychosis.


Postpartum psychosis Prevention Treatment Systematic review 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley Doucet
    • 1
  • Ian Jones
    • 2
  • Nicole Letourneau
    • 3
  • Cindy-Lee Dennis
    • 4
  • Emma Robertson Blackmore
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Nursing and Health SciencesUniversity of New BrunswickSaint JohnCanada
  2. 2.MRC Center for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, Department of Psychological Medicine and NeurologyCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  3. 3.Faculty of NursingUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada
  4. 4.Faculties of Nursing and Medicine, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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