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Post-partum depression devastates many mothers, fathers and children

Apparently the lady who crashed into the White House and Capitol barricades was suffering from post-partum depression. She had her one-year-old child with her, who thank God wasn't hurt - - physically, that is. ("Miriam Carey, Capitol Suspect, Suffered Post-Partum Depression" - - ABC News 10-3-13)

I'm not someone who believes in every new syndrome or disorder just because everyone's talking about it. But in case you wondered, post-partum depression is absolutely real. And terrifying. A friend from my law school class, who was absolutely normal, outgoing and responsible, was struck by it. She stabbed herself to death while home alone with her baby.

We see a lot of post-partum depression in our family law cases. Of all the reasons for divorce, it's one of the saddest, because post-partum depression divorces are fast-moving, quickly push the spouses to extremes, and often see the father pushed out of a very young child's life even though what's really going on is that the mother needs help. But what's saddest about them is that it seems like they should be preventable.

In fact, when I classify the different causes of divorce in my cases, post-partum depression is one of the major independent causes. Overall, most divorces are caused either by behavior that would be a traditional "fault" ground of divorce, or by the parties making choices that are influenced by the fact that with unilateral divorce laws, marriage doesn't bind them nor benefit them as much as it used to. That induces both no-fault "drifting apart", which people usually could reverse if they wanted to badly enough and early enough, and affairs. Besides those, the other major root causes of divorce are:

  • Post-partum depression
  • People who won't seek any mental health treatment (usually men, often military)
  • People who won't take their medication (usually men)
  • Addictions

These people have spouses who care deeply and often sacrifice their best years for them, but in our current system, there is no authority they can go to to get them to seek and cooperate with treatment, except by filing a divorce or child custody case. With post-partum depression, in particular, sufferers often refuse to acknowledge a problem, or even if they do, they find it easier to blame their spouses for it and force them to leave. And the family court system helps them do this, because its  built-in tendency is to protect women from the more well-known and traditional dangers, rather than from their own internal problems.

Surely there must be something that we can do better!



what a great summary of some real difficult situations. You may also be referring to the rare, but very real post partem psychosis some women experience. It is terrifying for them and terrifying for those around them, wondering if they're going to listen to those evil voices in their head.

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