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Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) in the Treatment of Postpartum Psychosis

Focht, Amanda MD; Kellner, Charles H. MD

doi: 10.1097/YCT.0b013e3182315aa8

Postpartum psychosis is one of the most severe manifestations of postpartum mental illness. A psychiatric emergency, the prompt recognition and treatment of postpartum psychosis is essential in insuring maternal and infant well-being and safety. Here, we review the literature on the phenomenology of postpartum psychosis and the prevalence of use, safety, and efficacy of electroconvulsive therapy as a treatment. Studies were searched using CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and PubMed databases. Based on our review, we argue that for some patients, electroconvulsive therapy should be the treatment of choice.

From the Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.

Received for publication July 18, 2011; accepted August 3, 2011.

Reprints: Amanda Focht, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1228, New York, NY 10029 (e-mail:

The authors did not receive funding for this work.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.