(FOX Carolina) - A North Carolina mother is accused of faking her baby’s kidnapping and trying to kill the infant. Now, her attorney wants her evaluated for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum depression is a term most people are familiar with. The condition is common and occurs in about 15% to 20% of births.
Experts say postpartum psychosis is very rare and only occurs in about .1% - .2% of births. Although it’s uncommon, the disorder is much more serious.
Greenville-based counselor Susannah Baldwin specializes in perinatal mental health and volunteers as a support counselor with Postpartum Support International.
Baldwin said there are multiple types of mood and anxiety disorders that can occur both during and after pregnancy and it’s important to know the signs.
“It’s really misunderstood and often goes undetected. if we could normalize a little bit the struggle of being a new parent then more people would talk about it. More people would get treatment and less people would get as sick as they do,” Baldwin said.
One of the most common conditions occurring after childbirth is postpartum depression.
“Postpartum depression occurs in as many as one in five women,” Baldwin said.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, signs of postpartum depression include feeling sad, hopeless, empty and overwhelmed.
While this condition is relatively common, a less common, and much more serious condition is postpartum psychosis.
“The onset is usually quite early and occurs in the first two to three weeks. The symptoms include things like seeing things or believing things that might not be there, confusion, disorientation and usually insomnia,” Baldwin said.
Symptoms of postpartum psychosis include hallucinations, hearing voices and extreme insomnia, and in rare instances, some moms experience thoughts of harming themselves or their babies. Baldwin said this occurs in less than 5% of women diagnosed with postpartum psychosis, but it’s important to pay attention to the warning signs.
“Those things are usually quite noticeable, even though the symptoms can wax and wane. A mom might seem fairly stable and like her typical self, and then out of the blue, make comments or say things that don’t seem like her normal self,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin says partners, family and friends should intervene when something doesn’t seem right.
"As a new parent, it's really easy to get lost in the new parent role. Family members or friends should ask how they’re feeling and pay attention if something seems off with them,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin said these postpartum conditions can be treated with medication or therapy and it’s important to know there are people out there who want to help.
Postpartum Support International has a 24-hour support line for anyone seeking help or looking for more information: 1-800-944-4773.