• by Maya Hammer

    We all know about the “baby blues”, a common experience of emotional ups and downs in the first week or two postpartum. Many of us, however, have never heard of the “baby pinks”, or The Highs, a feeling of intense happiness or euphoria following birth.

    Symptoms of postpartum hypomania include:

    -racing thoughts
    -fast talking
    -being very active
    -decreased ability to concentrate
    -impulsivity, e.g., shopping
    -decreased need for sleep
    -irritability

    These symptoms can be triggered by childbirth and usually subside after 6-8 weeks postpartum. In some cases, however, postpartum hypomania is an early indicator for bipolar disorder, depression, or psychosis. Therefore, it is very important to seek treatment if you or a loved one you know is experiencing.
    Causes

    Pregnancy and childbirth can trigger mental imbalance because of physiological changes such as stress, dysregulated cortisol, increased inflammation, decreased serotonin, and hormonal fluctuations. In addition, psychosocial factors can impact mental well-being including disrupted sleep, the demands of caring for a baby, lack of support, life stress, marital difficulty, or trauma. Genetics plays a part too: a personal or family history of mental illness, in particular bipolar disorder, predisposes a woman to prenatal and postpartum mental illness.

    Treatment

    It is important to seek treatment immediately if you notice unusual behaviour in your partner or loved one. Treatment can involve:

    1)      mood stabilizer medication
    2)      therapy to stabilize mood and regulate daily schedule
    3)      support and education for partners and families

    For further reading, check out this blog post on postpartum hypomania and mania, mom’s experience of hypomania induced by anti-depressant medication, a study on the prevalence of postpartum hypomania, and another study demonstrating that hypomanic symptoms can be used to correctly diagnose postpartum bipolar disorder.
    As well, check out an article in Today’s Parent, and Maya’s appearance on CTV Canada AM talking about the baby pinks.
    Maya Hammer, M.A., Counselling Psychology | www.mayahammer.ca