Updated: 10/04/2013 8:33 PM
Created: 10/04/2013 5:54 PM KSTP.com
By: Naomi Pescovitz
The high speed chase on Capitol Hill this week is starting a national conversation about postpartum mental health issues. Authorities say 34-year-old Miriam Carey was suffering from mental health problems. Her mother said Carey had also suffered from postpartum depression since last year.
Carey rammed a White House gate Thursday, led officers on a chase and was later shot and killed.
Allina Medical Clinic Psychologist Dr. Cheryl Bemel says there is a range of mental health problems that can occur after birth. Woman can experience mood changes, often called the "baby blues."
"Right after birth, there is a very huge decrease, a significant drop in the progesterone and estrogen," Bemel said.
In extreme and rare cases, women may experience psychosis.
"They may hear things that are not there, they may see things that are not reality based, so a break with reality," Bemel said.
Lakeville mother Stacey Ackerman experienced postpartum anxiety after the birth of her third child. It started with physical symptoms like dizziness.
"It just progressively declined to the point that I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I started forgetting things, I really, fully lost my mind," Ackerman said.
Ackerman spent two weeks in the hospital.
"I half the time didn't even remember I had a baby, I couldn't remember my husband, I couldn't remember how to brush my teeth," Ackerman said.
"In my mind, whether it's medically true or not, I thought I was never going to be fit to be my children's mother and that I was going to be institutionalized the rest of my life," Ackerman said.
Ackerman has now recovered and written a book about her experience called "Supermom: A Postpartum Anxiety Survival Story." She also connects with other survivors online.
"You can't prevent it but you can stop it in its tracks a little bit earlier," Ackerman said.
According to a CDC survey, 8 to 19 percent of women reported having frequent symptoms of postpartum depression. Doctors say it is treatable through medication and therapy.