Written by Teresa Twomey
Edited by Cheri Wissmann
We’ve certainly all seen or heard this phrase: “Postpartum psychosis* is rare.”
It’s a familiar refrain, and serves as an introductory statement in content ranging from news articles to social media posts to scientific journal articles.
We’ve already explained why calling PPP “rare” is harmful to our advocacy and awareness efforts, and is detrimental to the prevention of tragic outcomes.
So, if we don’t say rare, what do we say?
The solution is simple.
Just state the facts about postpartum psychosis – the frequency in numbers.
“Postpartum psychosis occurs at an approximate rate of 1-2 in 1000,” is usually stated along with the word “rare.” But the statistic makes the word rare utterly redundant.
When stating the rate of occurrence of postpartum psychosis, you can simply skip adding the word “rare” as a qualifier.
So please, don’t call it rare.
*A note about terminology: Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day aims to be inclusive in the way we spread awareness, as well as within the survivor community that we are building. That’s why we choose to use terms like “pregnancy and postpartum psychosis” or “perinatal psychosis,” rather than “postpartum psychosis.”
But when talking about rates of occurrence, the terms we use will reflect the scope of the research used in creating those estimates.
Nearly all research has focused on episodes of psychosis that occur immediately following childbirth and up to 3 months postpartum. It is not accurate to use those research findings to describe the prevalence of psychosis across the full perinatal period – which spans from conception until 1 year postpartum.
A future blog post will provide more details about the limitations of current research, and will be linked here once it’s published. Stay tuned!