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Postpartum psychosis and relationships: their mutual influence from the perspective of women and significant others

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number4
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)426-442
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/04/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Objective: To explore how women and their significant others make sense of their experience of postpartum psychosis (PP), their relationships, and the mutual influence of these.

Background: Although previous studies have highlighted the potential strain placed on relationships by an experience of PP, none have explored shared perceptions of relationships during this time.

Methods: Seven women who had experienced PP were interviewed, alongside a significant other of their choosing. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), paying particular attention to understandings shared or disputed by the dyad.

Results: Four themes emerged from the data: (a) ‘she wasn’t herself’: threatened relationships through loss of ‘normal’ self; (b) invalidation and isolation: relational dynamics in seeking, receiving and providing support; (c) ‘the worst life can throw at us’: shared perceptions of trust and respect following PP; and (d) a double-edged sword: understanding relationships as negatively and positively influencing PP experience.

Conclusion: The results highlight the complexity of interactions between the experience of PP and close relationships. Although PP can create difficulties within relationships, ultimately the experience can result in stronger connections with significant others. Supportive relationships can play an important role in recovery from PP. Methodological limitations, clinical implications and areas for further research are considered.