Dr. Michelle Golland: Kaine Horman and Desiree Young, Kyron Horman's parents, are now reporting they are concerned that Terri Horman may be suffering from postpartum depression or psychosis. They believe Terri's emotional state changed after the birth of Kiara (who is now 19 months old). Terri's behavior seemed to become more erratic, and even though she never expressed her depression to Kaine, it seems she was venting often to her girlfriends.
Postpartum depression is a serious problem affecting one out of twenty new moms. The symptoms include frequent crying, difficulty bonding with the child and mood and sleep disturbances. Postpartum psychosis is not nearly as common -- only affecting one out of a thousand new moms -- but it can be deadly. When the mother begins to lose touch with reality and starts expressing bizarre thinking patterns or strange ideas, you may be dealing with psychosis.
The case of Andrea Yates, who killed her five young children in June 2001 by drowning them in the bathtub in her home, is an example of severe postpartum depression and psychosis. There is also the case of new mom Otty Sanchez, who decapitated her child and consumed some of his body parts last year. (She had apparently tried to kill herself, too.) In the week prior, she had broken up with the baby's father. Her family has reported that she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia earlier in life and that she suffered from postpartum psychosis after the birth of her son.
We do not know if Terri Moulton Horman did anything to Kyron, but what we do know is that she failed two polygraphs regarding his disappearance. Also, Terri allegedly attempted to hire someone to kill Kaine. There was enough evidence of danger that Kaine Horman was able to get a restraining order for himself and their daughter.
What is clear is that the parents of Kyron are desperate to find their son and believe that Terri Horman is somehow involved.
Signs of postpartum psychosis:
- Illogical thoughts
- Refusing to eat
- Extreme feelings of anxiety and agitation
- Periods of delirium or mania
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
Who is at risk?
Women who have been diagnosed with psychosis, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are at greater risk. Also, women with a family history of any of the above disorders have a higher risk. If a woman has had a past incident of postpartum psychosis, she is between 20 and 50 percent more likely to have another incident with her future pregnancies.
Causes of postpartum psychosis
There are a variety of factors that contribute to postpartum psychosis. The most important one is the mother's changing hormones after delivery of her child. Other issues seem to be lack of social and emotional support. A mother's low self-esteem, financial issues and major life changes (such as moving or starting a new job) may also increase chances of a psychotic break.
There should be a multi-disciplinary response to postpartum psychosis. Antipsychotic medication is typically used, as well as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. This disorder must be treated as a medical emergency and given immediate attention by the father and the extended family. The mother may need to be hospitalized and/or separated from the child during the most critical time. The mother should also receive traditional talk therapy and possibly join a support group to deal with the emotional fallout from the postpartum psychotic episode. With effective and quick treatment, most women recover from their disorder.
Do YOU think Terri Moulton Horman could have suffered from postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis? Comment below.