Why a new mom might put herself -- or her child -- in harm's way

About 10% of new mothers develop a condition called postpartum depression

Jacque Wilson | 10/7/2013, 5:30 a.m. | Updated on 10/7/2013, 5:30 a.m.
Miriam Carey, 34, was shot dead Thursday by Capitol Hill police after she tried to drive into a blocked entrance ...
Amy Carey, the sister Miriam Carey, the woman authorities say rammed a barricade at the White House and then led police on a high-velocity chase through the heart of the nation's capital, spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper Friday night, October 4, 2013. CNN

— Postpartum psychosis is more closely linked to mental illness. A mother is more at risk of developing postpartum psychosis if she or a close family member has had bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, according to ACOG.

"Data suggest that postpartum psychosis is an overt presentation of bipolar disorder that is timed to coincide with tremendous hormonal shifts after delivery," a review of postpartum psychosis published in the Journal of Women's Health stated.


New moms should try to take care of themselves as well as their babies, ACOG says. Sleep when the baby sleeps, ask for help from family and friends, and take some time to do things outside the house.

If you are feeling depressed more than a week or two after giving birth, talk to your doctor.

Cognitive behavioral therapy -- which focuses on changing thought patterns -- and antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications are all treatment options for women with postpartum depression.

Postpartum psychosis requires more immediate attention, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mothers who are suffering from hallucinations or paranoia should be brought to the hospital, where doctors will assess their mental stability. Occasionally electroconvulsive therapy, or small electrical shocks to the brain, is recommended.

"The chemical changes triggered by the electrical currents can reduce the symptoms of depression, especially when other treatments have failed," the Mayo Clinic website explains.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick, Elizabeth Landau and Lateef Mungin contributed to this story.