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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