Woman Killed Yesterday at the U.S. Capitol Had Postpartum Depression, Sister Says

The 34-year-old woman who was shot and killed outside the U.S. Capitol yesterday was suffering from postpartum depression with psychotic features, according to her sister. The woman, Miriam Carey, a dental hygienist is reported to have had delusions of President Obama stalking her. She was killed after leaving what the police described as a typical two-bedroom apartment with nothing out of the ordinary and driving 265 miles from her home in Connecticut to the White House barricades on Pennsylvania Avenue.Shen then turned around and drove toward the U.S. Capitol where she was shot by police officers.

Rep. Michael McCaual, a Texas Republican who is the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that he had been informed that Carey had been treated for schizophrenia, although her family members described it as a series of psychotic episodes with a postpartum onset. A plausible explanation is that Carey was experiencing psychotic and manic symptoms that lead led to her delusions, paranoia, energy and irritability.

Postpartum depression is the most well known pregnancy-related mood disorder. Individuals can also experience manic and psychotic symptoms.  Postpartum mood disorders are fare more severe than what’s called the baby blues, a temporary sadness that can hit women soon after they give birth and law for a few days or a couple of weeks. Postpartum depression and its cousins strike more than 14 percent of women and can last for months.

It is often difficult for mothers to get care because of stigma, a lack of understanding or education on the issues or feeling so overwhelmed that its hard for a mother to put her health priorities first.
 Factors that can contribute to postpartum depression, mania and psychosis include sensitive to dramatic changes in hormone levels that occur during pregnancy and postpartum; sleep deprivation; psychological stresses of new motherhood, previous history of mental illness and family history of mental illness. Other factors that could increase risk include difficult pregnancies, sensitivity to changes, labor or delivery; colicky, difficult or demanding newborns; poor social support systems; psychological stressors, certain personality traits and other factors. Doctors recommend that you consult with a psychiatrist familiar with postpartum issues months prior to birth if you have a personal or family history of mood disorders.

In recent years, several women have opened up about their struggles with mental health postpartum. Brooke Shields, the actress, has publicly spoken about her postpartum depression.  Her memoir, Down Come the Rain, eloquently illustrates both the torture of depression and that double theft that occurs when what is supposed to be such a joyous occasion — bringing a newborn into the field — feels like it is being snatched from you.

Valerie Plame Wilson, the C.I.A. officer who became entangled in the debate over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, told NPR that her experience with postpartum depression tested her in ways that being an undercover operative never did.

If you need help, a great resource is Postpartum Support Virginia, which sponsors supported groups, vets medical professionals and provides other resources. You can find the names of individuals you can call or e-mail who have been through postpartum mood disorders, a list of medical professionals who have said that they have a special interest in postpartum and other resources.

Several of the mental health professionals include Dr. Imran Akram, who works in our offices in Centreville and McLean; Dr. Beverly Reader, who specializes in women’s mental health issues and Dr. Jennifer Santoro in Fairfax.

I’ve posted the list of postpartum support groups in the area below:

Postpartum Support Groups
Updated August 2013
Talking with other women who have experienced postpartum depression can be extremely helpful.  Support groups offer the opportunity to validate experiences, share coping strategies, and gain support and encouragement. 
The volunteers running peer support groups all have firsthand experience with postpartum depression, either personally or with a family member.  However, these volunteers are NOT medical professionals and therefore cannot give professional advice, diagnose, prescribe, or in any way treat postpartum mood disorders.   Support groups are an adjunct to — not a replacement for — medical treatment.  Those with medical, mental, or personal issues are strongly urged to seek advice from physicians and/or mental health professionals.
Please contact the support group leader directly for more information about the group:
Arlington Virginia Hospital Center, Wednesday mornings
Jalyn Tiffany, jalyn.psva@gmail.com
Arlington – Spanish speaking group Inova Cares Clinic for Women and Children, 3rd Wednesday of the month
Sonia Gutierrez, Sonia.Gutierrez@inova.org, 703-531-3013
Alexandria  Fairlington United Methodist Church, 2nd and 4th Wednesday evenings
Susan Doyle, 571-403-0673, suzjdoyle@gmail.com
1stand 3rd Tuesday evenings
Benta Sims, benta@bentasimslpc.com, 703-244-9232
Fairfax  Inova Fairfax Hospital, 2ndand 4th Tuesday mornings
Susan Weatherbee, postpartumsupport@inova.org, 703-776-6775
Leesburg  Inova Loudon Hospital / Cornwall Campus,2nd and 4th Wednesday afternoons
Leslie McKeough, 703-909-9877, lamckeough@gmail.com
Newport News  Riverside Regional Medical Center, 1st Tuesday of the month
Diana McSpadden, 757-349-6441, facilitatorPPDWilliamsburgVA@gmail.com
Charlene Smith, 757-880-2650,  charlenesmith76@gmail.com
Richmond  Cypress Counseling, 3rdFriday mornings of the month
McKenzie Casad, 757-553-2780, mckenzie@cypresscounseling.com
Virginia Beach  Kempsville Presbyterian Church, 4th Wednesday of the month
Beth MacFarlane, 757-404-6950, bmacpsva@gmail.com
Alexis Rose, 757-288-6613, arosepsv@gmail.com
Williamsburg  Anahata Yoga Center of Williamsburg, 2ndTuesday mornings of the month
Diana McSpadden, 757-349-6441, facilitatorPPDWilliamsburgVA@gmail.com
Woodbridge Woodbridge Psychological Associates, Sunday evenings by appointment
Elizabeth Wilkins-McKee, elzwilkinsmckee@gmail.com
Washington DC Wisconsin Avenue Baptist Church, Wednesday evenings
Lynne McIntyre, 202-744-3639, lynne@lynnemcintyre.com
Perinatal Loss, McLean Presbyterian Church, first Thursday evening of the month
SIDS Midatlantic and Preemies Today, 703-955-6899, sidsma27@aol.com, www.sidsma.org
If this is a medical emergency, or if you feel you might harm yourself or your baby, contact 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)


Leave a Reply