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Yolanda Spivey: The Incident in Washington DC Reminds Us that Post-Partum Depression is Real

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By Yolanda Spivey

Immediately after giving birth to my son seven years ago, I cried for two weeks straight.  I couldn’t understand why I was feeling the way I was feeling.  I thought, this should be the happiest time of my life, but yet, a sense of sadness enveloped my whole being.  I was approached by the Doctors and Nurses at the hospital I gave birth at, and they offered to send me to counseling.  It was clear that I was suffering from post-partum depression.

Recently, a 34 year old young lady from Stamford, Conn., by the name of Miriam Carey, was shot dead by police officers outside of Capitol Hill.  Authorities state that she was allegedly attempting to ram the White House gates leading authorities on a high speed chase to the U. S. Capitol.  Not only did she have a history of mental health issues, her mother told authorities that she was also suffering from post-partum depression.

Post-partum depression, (also referred to as post-natal depression or baby-blues), is a clinical depression that often affects women after childbirth.  Symptoms can be as light as what I’ve experienced after the birth of my child, or as heavy and severe as what Miriam Carey was going through.

JAMA Psychiatry published a study back in March stating that 14% of new mothers experienced depression during their first year after giving birth.  Dr. Katherine L. Wisner, M.D. who headed the study told, “A lot of women do not understand what is happening to them.  They think they’re just stressed or they believe it is how having a baby is supposed to feel.”

Wisner further stated, “In the U.S., the vast majority of post-partum women with depression are not identified or treated even though they are at higher risk for psychiatric disorders.”  She further explained that post-partum depression was a “huge public health problem,” and that women’s mental health had a profound effect on fetal development as well as their children’s physical and emotional development.

Here’s how the breaks down the different levels of post-partum depression:

Baby blues symptoms
Signs and symptoms of the baby blues — which last only a few days to a week or two — may include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Crying
  • Decreased concentration
  • Trouble sleeping

Postpartum depression symptoms
Postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Postpartum depression symptoms may include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lack of joy in life
  • Feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Severe mood swings
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby

Untreated, postpartum depression may last for many months or longer.

Postpartum psychosis
With postpartum psychosis — a rare condition that typically develops within the first two weeks after delivery — the signs and symptoms are even more severe. Signs and symptoms of postpartum psychosis may include:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Attempts to harm yourself or your baby

I’ll be honest and say that at times during the first year of my son’s life, I too, like Miriam Carey, wanted to ram my car into something, anything.  But I recognized what was happening to me, and sought counseling privately with a therapist.  Women and their partners need to heed the warning signs and get help before another tragedy like the one in Washington D.C. occurs again.  May Miriam Carey sleep in peace.


Yolanda Spivey is the Social Justice Manager for Your Black World.  She is also the owner of an insurance brokerage Michael Whitney & Associates.  She blogs often on various issues and can be reached at  You can also visit her facebook page at



  1. DoverDavisJr

    October 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Do you remember that old white guy who carried a shotgun to Washington and shot a black security guard? He was not killed, so why was this woman killed?

    She was killed because she was black. Police don’t spare black people when they go astray. They kill us. But when white people go astray they show reluctance to kill.

  2. Doris

    October 8, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I must agree with Taunya, her condition was more than postpartum depression. There was definitely a severe case of mental illness. It’s very unfortunate that a young, beautiful mother had to die senselessly. I personally feel that black people must stop thinking that it’s taboo to have a mental illness and seek help for it. We don’t want to be labeled as crazy by our family and friends however, when/ if something like this occurs then the fact that there is a mental illness issue is discussed by the same family members and friends. It’s too late then. Seek help and/or encourage others to do the same!!!

  3. African Man

    October 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

    It was cold blooded murder,planed and simple . A black mother and child were perceived as a danger to the nation.

  4. moonhead

    October 9, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    There was an article written yesterday about why was Black people losing discrimination cases lately, and if you read some of these stupid comments on this site today you will certainly find the answer. Every goddamn time some Black person does something illegal or wrong, you will have some ignorant ass, excuse blaming

    Yesterday there was an article printed on here about why Black people were losing discrimination cases lately, and if you read some of the responses on here about this woman in D.C, that was killed because she went ballistic, and could have injured or killed many people with her car being a weapon, you will find out why. We have some people in our community, that scream racism, when racism had nothing at all to do with the case or situation. How in the hell did the police know if this woman didn’t have an hidden weapon, although her car was a weapon itself? These police officers are trained to protect the President, and other government officials. There was just an incident recently at the navy yards in D.C, where we had another nut job kill 12 or 13 innocent people, and again we had some delusional ass, blame it on whitey for this animal actions. Some of these fools commented on here that if this was a white person, the police would never had shot her, which is a damn lie. Just last year, they killed a white man that broke into one of the libraries, and shot and killed several police officers, some of which happened happened to be Black. If we continue to make these outlandish claims and assertions, without any real basis or facts, we will be thought of as the was the boy who cried wolf too many times, and all the claims of racism will be thrown out the window. The way it is going now, with these ridiculous claims of blaming every damn thing on racism, and on the victims, we will never find a diverse group of people that will believe anything that we claim. Remember that juries aren’t made up of simply Black people. If this woman had any good thoughts or intentions, she would have stopped when told to do so, and not try to run down those police officers. Anybody that believes in criminal behavior, is noting but a hood rat, and thug themselves. If this woman’s family believes that they are going to get a dime out of this case they are seriously delusional. Every one of them knew that this woman had serious mental problems, but did nothing to help her. Now these ghetto gutter rats are coming out of the closet, seeking publicity, sympathy, and money for themselves. If I would be picked for a civil trial on this case, I’d make sure that they wouldn’t receive one dime.


  5. Tiamette

    October 10, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I have worked in DC. You put one toe out of line, black or white, and you will have a cop in your face instantly. Security there is not something you take for granted.

    When I saw this footage and they said the perp was a woman, I was shocked. When the post partum depression was mentioned, I was even more shocked. As previously mentioned, she also had a mental disorder that was not properly addressed by the family. Putting your child in a car and drive 400 miles and causing that much havoc is more than just post partum depression.

    It is sad that she died that way, but the unexplainable is coming in all colors, sizes and situations these days. FYI: a man set himself on fire on the National Mall, what on earth did that accomplish other than him dying? No one can explain what is going through people’s minds these days. The IF statements are just ignorant. It was what it was.

    Black people are so hypocritical, we are always ready to scream racism, but often times I have seen women in need of help and no black person ever helps. A young man got on the bus recently and was short by 50 Cents, I gave him the change and when he went to the back of the bus and sat down, no less than 5 people said they wouldn’t have given him anything. Even the bus driver said it wasn’t smart. It was easy to see he was on his way to school, but that’s black folks.

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