Another Tragedy of Perinatal Illness

By Susan Feinegold

2013-10-09-MiriyamCarey.jpg At this point many of us have seen the news about Miriam Carey. It is certainly a tragic story of "missed opportunities."

Even after reading many accounts of the tragedy which ended in Miriam's death after the high speed chase on October 3rd, we still don't know exactly what went wrong, but there are many questions that occur to me and likely to many of you.

What was the reason she did what she did? Was it a head injury or postpartum psychosis that was to blame for her delusional beliefs that the President was monitoring her and broadcasting her life on television? If this began three months after her daughter was born, why was she still psychotic well after the first year? If she was hospitalized on two occasions and medicated properly, why was she still so ill?

My purpose is not to blame the authorities, her healthcare providers, her family or the system that failed her. I'm more interested in solutions, so that there are no other women that suffer from unsuccessfully treated perinatal illness.

In truth, we have helped many women over the years, but there continues to be those that we have failed to identify or help.

It is further proof how important the work we do is!

It makes me think, we need to continue to increase awareness so that women and families recognize the signs of perinatal illness. We need to continue to educate the public and the media so that they know the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety disorders and the more severe symptoms of postpartum psychosis.

It makes me think how often the public and the media make the mistake of thinking there is no difference between postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis. (See Walker Karraa's blog on postpartum psychosis, Postpartum Support International's website, or or the Introduction of my book, Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders)

I'm sorry we couldn't have helped Miriam. I am sorry that we failed her.

Let's make sure that she is the last woman we fail. Let's change things by increasing awareness, so that other women suffering with perinatal illness will get help soon enough and the right kind of help to get well.

MotherWoman, a Massachusetts based organization, raises awareness about the spectrum of perinatal emotional complications by providing public and professional education. MotherWoman provides weekly support groups, advocates for family friendly policy, and builds community based coalitions of professionals who work together to establish a safety net for all mothers.

2013-10-09-SusanFeingold.jpeg Author's Bio: Susan Benjamin Feingold, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist, author and adjunct professor at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology, Chicago Campus of Argosy University. Dr. Feingold currently practices in the Chicago area. Her book, Happy Endings, New Beginnings: Navigating Postpartum Disorders (New Horizon Press, 2013) is available at local bookstores or online at:, or through In her clinical practice, she specializes in the treatment of antepartum and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders, as well as other women's mental health issues related to reproductive function. A past board president of Depression After Delivery, a nonprofit, Dr. Feingold has been facilitating support groups for antepartum and postpartum women for the past 14 years.