3 realities of postpartum depression to keep in mind as you read news from Capitol car chase

Sounds awfully proactive for a depressed person.


That child will no longer have a mother. The husband no longer has a wife. Kinda a bummer.

I agree that PPP may be more a diagnosis du jour, but it’s not new at all. I am 42 and my mother was affected by it after my birth. And yes, she tried to kill me and my sister both on more than one occasion, leading to a two year stay in an institution. I’m so sad for this woman’s family and all the others impacted by mental illness.


Thank you for the informative post. I hope that more people read this and it helps inform the discussion on PPD.

I am sad that this forum discussion has been bogged down by statistical nit-pickers who use terms like “nutso” to describe the experience of their own spouse. That sort of attitude doesn’t make it very hard to speculate why it would go under reported.


I suppose one of the problems with diagnosing it is the assumption that the depression only of mainly comes from the effects of pregnancy and birth on the body, which would make it strange to see depression occurring months or longer after the birth, or happening to fathers. I guess it’s a broadening of the definition that reflects the fact that the experience of expecting and having a child is incredibly stressful without even considering the purely physical effects. The sleepless nights and constant demands on your time, along with the worry that you’re doing it wrong or that the worst could happen are going to be bad for your mental health, while there may be almost a grieving process for the loss of free time, relationship with each other, social life, freedom and financial security. Other purely external events (such as losing your job or someone close to you) can cause depression, so my impression of this site that was linked to is that PPT is not qualitatively that different from regular depression; it’s just a particular event that is especially likely to bring about depression and it could have different effects due to the specific pressures that having a young baby involves.

No one was killed except, yknow, one black woman.

An interesting aside is that Congressional Republicans offered the brave Capitol Police a round of applause and congratulatory tweets, and no paychecks.


Perhaps we should have every new mother who suffers from psychosis call you up and let you know about. I’m sure getting the word out to mrmcd is high on the priority list for a new mother who has just experienced a terrifying, probably shameful, and possibly inexpressible break with reality.

Really. If the mother is not in the mood to talk about it, who should talk about it? The father of the baby? The partner? Is it the partner’s place to go around telling people the intimate details of a psychotic episode that came out of nowhere? Should they make an asterisk on the birth announcement and let everybody know the details of the psychotic break along with the baby’s height and weight?

Perhaps the doctor should alert the media. Oh yeah, the doctor can’t release that information.

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Wait, seriously? Postpartum depression and psychosis are disorders that have been studied for decades. There’s not a “bandwagon”. If anything, our society is so intent on portraying new motherhood as a time of smiles and clean houses and supreme fulfillment that women don’t report the symptoms, because they feel like it means they’re terrible people.


Good article, and I’m glad you mentioned about post partum psychosis. I found out that my mother suffered from ppp when she had my brother. Neither of us knew until we were in our thirties. And that was only after our father (who had divorced my mother) had told me. (He left it up to me to tell my brother . . . which I did after awhile, though I considered not telling him, too. I mean what are you going to do in that situation?) My mother will take it to the grave unless one of us decides to ask her about it someday.

I’ve discovered through NAMI groups, etc, that many people with serious mood disorders and schizoid diagnoses for example don’t really use the proper names of their diagnoses, even with their families. They will take their medicine and do what they have to do, but plenty of people who have had psychotic breaks in their past don’t directly acknowledge them even in intimate conversations with families and doctors, which is hard to deal with as a family member. (I had to push really hard to find out about some other diagnoses floating around in our family and then work with nurses who helped me learn more about what the diagnoses actually were when they realized I didn’t know shit. Point being that people with mental illness and their care providers don’t always just volunteer information on a silver platter in my experience.)

Maybe the communication technology that we have creates a distorting effect for stuff like this. A few people (sufferers or family members) will step forward and advocate about a condition or a related condition on the internet or through classes, support groups, media campaigns, etc, and possibly make the condition (or related conditions) look more “out” than it is.

That might explain why some people leaving comments seem so aghast (as I was) that post partum psychosis is a real thing that happens relatively frequently. Many of us probably think we’re pretty well versed about mental illness thanks to groups like NAMI, so that when we learn about something new, we’d rather call bullshit than face the possibility that we might not know something.

Plus, the fact that ppp often happens when the mother is still in the hospital where it is quietly treated, and the fact that it hits people who have just had babies, and the fact that it likely won’t reoccur . . . those are factors that make advocacy and publicity for ppp less a priority for sufferers and their support people.


How so? All it takes is one phone call and any lawyer will jump at the chance to carry the ball over the goal line.

Also, depression can take the form of boundless mania and rage. Did you miss the psychosis part?

i believe 2 agents/policemen were injured by her car

More like, the “1 in 1000” number sounds way off. If true, every small community in the country would have a psychotic new mom in its midst. And that would something very difficult to ignore until…just now?

Would you recognize a “psychotic new mom” in your midst? Oftentimes the person is still in the hospital when it happens. The psychosis responds to mood stabilizing medications. It goes away entirely within fourteen days. So I think a lot of the time, mothers suffering in the most acute stages of ppp aren’t out in the community.

In my experience, people and families are very good about not disclosing mental illnesses, even to close friends. There are all kinds of euphemisms and polite ways of talking around specific diagnoses. (My mother had ppp when she gave birth to my brother, and neither of us found out until we were in our thirties, and only when our dad told us in strange circumstances.)

Plus, I think PPP in particular doesn’t get a whole lot of publicity or advocacy because unlike some other mental illnesses, it’s temporary (when treated, and it often is treated because the person suffering from it is often in the hospital when it happens) and the person who suffers from it is probably more interested in raising her child than she is in dwelling on a brief psychotic break that likely isn’t going to happen again.

Because, mentally ill women have children, too. And they are often faced with having to go off their meds for a period, as well as with the hormonal whim-whams that can happen afterward I merely question the number given - not the existence of the condition itself.

These are good points, and I’m glad you raised them. I hope Maggie will do a full write up about post partum psychosis and women with mental illness who have to go off medicines.

One other thing is that I think there were drugs they gave to women in the delivery room at some points in history that were linked to increased incidence of ppp.


Yes, that would be cool, if she did take it further.

I’m a licensed mental health provider and a graduate professor. You’re wrong like a very wrong thing.


Really? So we no longer call depression “the Great Imitator?” It’s just one affect all the time? When their parents are dying, siblings just have group hugs rather than turning on each other? Of course a lot of this depends whether they experienced abuse or alcoholic parents, and how they handle stress. Do they have bipolar or borderline traits? Well all that’s going to come bursting out during an episode of depression.especially in a period where they dealing with stress as a family. And you can’t just say a priori that those scenarios don’t count for the purpose of this discussion, because they do.

Keep in mind this woman probably had a really shitty “licensed mental health provider” (or several) in her life, and she probably latched onto one who was classic enabler in the alcoholic family sense, someone that coddled her and took her checks, and now she’s dead.

Yes, a lot of people have a history of emotional problems that are in their past that will later be triggered and pop up again. Very very often this is something to do with their spouse and children in some sort of reenactment of something that happened 20 years ago when they were growing up. It’s often quite baffling to the family to see someone reenacting scripts that have nothing to do with current events, especially when all of a sudden mania or borderline activity comes bursting out.

This is why people go to various types of adult survivor or 12 step groups - because these cycles of behavior, even when sober, is enough to make them “hit bottom” as if they were an alcoholic. Very often this is associated with the death of a parent.

Throw in an actual physical change like in PPD and things will be much worse. .

And one more thing about the deressed end of the spectrum rather than psychosis or schizophrenia. never forget that much of what we call “mental illness” particularly in a family setting is about issues of power and control. It becomes a problem when demands for power and control get out of hand. The flipside of that is seen in people whose determination to control others has led to the paradoxical but inevitable loss of control, and they have to face up to the fact that their various strategies to control their families members weren’t working.

Isn’t the ‘Great Imitator’ syphilis?

That too. Every physician thinks their pet disease is the “greatest” I guess.

When I was younger, i did not know that depression would cause someone to spit rage and practically turn into a stalker in pursuit of some relative or bystander or employee, but if you’ve dealt with people handling the death of a parent, you’ll see this is really common. Usually the parent was alcoholic, probably yanked the kids chain right until they died, then left a will full of poison pills to spite their family from beyond the grave. The other thing is that some very large percentage of the people having nearly daily fits of rage on blogs are suffering from depression.

There need to be awareness campaigns, and hats off to anyone who advertises treatment for postpartum mood disorders, whether it be medications or not. It doesn’t sound like you know very much about mental illness. They are serious diseases that can have devastating impacts (According to WHO, depression is the #1 cause of disability in the world. That’s pretty significant!) on the person who is ill, their family, and society. You speak as if bipolar disorder was a trend, just as you speak of postpartum mental illness as being the “illness de jour”- very ignorant. You also state that people are going to “jump on the postpartum bandwagon”- do you think this is an illness being made up for others to profit from it? PPD and PPP have always been around, they are just under-reported, under-diagnosed, and sadly therefore, under-treated. It is no wonder it is under-reported with such insensitive judgment such as this.

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