Three things to know about postpartum depression as you read about Miriam Carey and the Capitol car chase
Yesterday, Miriam Carey died after being shot by police following a car chase between the White House and the US Capitol building. Carey is reported to have tried to ram through barricades at the White House, hitting at least one officer as well as a squad car. She then drove her vehicle into barriers in front of the Hart Senate Building before being fatally shot by law enforcement officers. She was unarmed. A child identified as her daughter — a little more than one year old — was in the car the whole time.
Today, news outlets are reporting that Carey had a history of traumatic brain injury and postpartum depression, the latter of which may have been severe enough to send her to the hospital at some point in the past year. Nobody knows what, if any, effect this may have had on what happened yesterday. But it's led to plenty of speculation, and the spread of bad information that stigmatizes women suffering from an incredibly common mental illness.
For instance, on NBC's Today Show this morning, psychologist Jennifer Hartstein declared that "postpartum depression has led mothers to kill their children" — a statement that conflates PPD with a different disorder AND overstates the risk that other disorder poses to kids.
Over the next few days, we're all likely to hear a lot of discussion about postpartum depression. As you absorb that news, keep the following facts in mind:
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Police say a woman carrying a small child in her car "rammed" a White House security barricade Thursday, then led Capitol police and Secret Service agents on a high-speed car chase to the U.S. Capitol. She was shot and killed outside Hart Senate Office Building, where the offices of many senators are located.
She has been identified "pending confirmation" by various law enforcement agencies as Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist based in Stamford, Connecticut, who previously lived in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is video of the deceased woman's black sedan in an apparent confrontation with Capitol police.