Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression, involves both periods of feeling low (depressed) and high (mania). While the cause is unknown, it is clear that bipolar disorder is frequently inherited and often linked to stressful life events.
Women who have a history of bipolar disorder in their family may have a first episode during pregnancy or in the postnatal period. Women who have had bipolar disorder or puerperal psychosis before have a high risk of relapse at this time.
Women experiencing bipolar disorder during the perinatal period may focus their fears and depressive concerns on the pregnancy, on the wellbeing of the baby, or feelings of inadequacy as a parent. Comprehensive mental health assessment and involvement of a psychiatrist are necessary in the care of women experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Medications and continued monitoring are required to treat and manage this biological condition.