Understanding the warning signs of postpartum psychosis

ST. LOUIS - The recent murder-suicide involving a south St. Louis family struck a nerve among women across the country. It is bringing postpartum psychosis into the spotlight. Moms who appear to have it all can snap quickly and take their life as well as those in their own family.

On February 2, 32-year-old Mary Jo Trockey shot and killed her husband, Mathew, and their 3-month-old daughter, Taylor Rose.

In the days following the tragedy, psychologists said it was clear Trockey suffered from an extreme and rare form of postpartum depression called postpartum psychosis. Mary Jo's mother told St. Louis Public Radio there was no doubt about it.

She said her daughter struggled with being a first-time mom, despite a supportive family and a background in mental health. She had just returned to work and was juggling the stress of that.

Megan Miller Vicary heard about the murder-suicide and came to St. Louis to share her story in hopes it would help other women.

Vicary said the stress of selling her house shortly after giving birth and the stress of being a new mom overwhelmed her. She beat her husband and doesn't remember any of it.

Vicary said she believes she developed hypothyroidism because of labor-inducing drugs.

Approximately 1 in 7 women have postpartum depression and anxiety; 1 in 2,000 develop postpartum psychosis.

The warning signs: a family history of postpartum depression, a family history of anxiety or depression, poor social support, a person who is controlling or a perfectionist. Women usually do not ask for help, which is why it is so important that family members see the warning signs and intervene.

Dr. Diane Sanford is passionate that more must be done to screen and educate women and their families during pregnancy.

For more information:

Dr. Diane Sanford: DrDianeSanford.com
National Institute of Mental Health's facts about postpartum depression
Support line and peer support for pregnant and postpartum mothers: 314-768-MOMS
Postpartum Support International Missouri: 314-602-5184