Help available for women suffering from postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis

Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 women

INDIANAPOLIS - New details have emerged about the mental health of Miriam Carey, the young mom shot and killed in Washington, D.C. after a high-speed chase at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

Her family said she suffered from postpartum depression and possibly postpartum psychosis.

Experts say the disorder is actually a fairly common condition, but there is help available to women suffering from the condition.

Postpartum depression or anxiety, which rarely leads to violent behavior, affects up to one in seven women, experts said.

A less common, but more serious, condition is postpartum psychosis.

"One to two women in a 1,000 may get postpartum psychosis. And if they suffer from postpartum psychosis, usually the history for that would be a history of schizophrenia, a history of bipolar mood disorder. And gone untreated, those women could have a psychotic break, hear voices that aren't there, see things that aren't there," said Birdie Gunyon Meyer, coordinator of Perinatal Mood Disorders Program at Indiana University Health.

Federal authorities said they found medications inside Carey's apartment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The 34-year-old mom was shot to death by police after leading them on a high-speed chase outside the White House. Her 18-month-old child in the car with her was unharmed.

Local health experts agree there is still a stigma attached to mental disorders, which may keep people from seeking help or may cause them to stop taking their medication.

Many new moms may keep their feelings of postpartum depression inside.

"You already feel like a failure in so many other ways, and I think women sometimes feel inadequate," Dr. Chris Mernitz, OBGYN at St. Vincent Health, said. "I think a lot of women are just scared. I think they think that they're alone. And when I start to talk to women in the office, they start to find out it's a very common problem."

Mernitz said postpartum depression is common enough that he warns all of his new moms about the symptoms before they even leave the hospital.

Experts say the symptoms are treatable and there is help available:

  • Perinatal Mood Disorders support group at IU Health: 317-962-8191
  • Postpartum Support International: 800-944-4PPD

Follow Tanya Spencer on Twitter: @tanyaspencer6 | Facebook: Tanya Spencer

Print this article Back to Top