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Psychopathology. 1999 Jul-Aug;32(4):192-202.

Long-term course and outcome of severe postpartum psychiatric disorders.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Würzburg, Germany.


Thirty-nine women who had suffered from a severe first-episode postpartum psychiatric illness were re-examined after a period of 6-26 years (averaging 12.5 years). Diagnoses were established according to ICD-10 and Leonhard's classification, revealing a marked predominance of cycloid psychoses (54%) according to Leonhard. There was no evidence of the nosological independence of postpartum psychosis. Only 4 patients (10%) had never recovered fully since the onset of the illness. In contrast, 6 patients had undergone a monophasic course without any further psychopathology. In 20 cases (51%) the illness had run a multiphasic course. The average number of episodes per patient was 2.5 (range 2-6). The course was not determinable in 4 patients (10%). Nineteen women (49%) had 22 further deliveries after the first manifestation of the illness. The frequency of a relapse in connection with further pregnancy or delivery was 50%. Applying the Strauss-Carpenter Outcome Scale, we found a favourable outcome for the total sample with a mean value of 14.1 (SD = 2.6). The vast majority of patients (75%) showed no persistent alterations. Our findings provide further evidence of a favourable prognosis of severe postpartum psychiatric disorder despite the remarkably high rate of puerperal relapses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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