Detroit - David Rosenberg, M.D., chair of Psychiatry and The Miriam L. Hamburger Endowed Chair of Child Psychiatry and professor of Psychiatry in Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, provided information on mental health issues that may have led to the October 3, 2013 tragedy in Washington, D.C. with Miriam Carey.

According to Rosenberg, mental health issues are an epidemic in our society. Post-partum conditions are not uncommonly associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While inpatient hospitalization is often required, ensuring that the appropriate community supports, resources and interventions are available both before and after hospitalization.

“At Wayne State University, we have mobile crisis teams to help keep patients out of the ER and hospital, determine when it is most necessary, and equally important, after hospitalization, ensure that treatment is maintained so that tragedies such as this one are prevented,” said Rosenberg.

Rosenberg added that to understand if such behaviors are associated with postpartum depression, there is a need to look into what came beforehand. “Knowing the family history is critical, but postpartum depression and psychosis are extreme risk factors with significant risk to the mother and child, with high rates of suicide and homicide,” said Rosenberg. “Postpartum psychosis and depression can be associated with extreme mood swings, being suicidal, paranoid, psychotic and having a lack of reality.”

Rosenberg said there are a number of criteria for hospitalizing someone for mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar. These could include a risk for oneself or others such as directed violence, paranoia, psychotic behavior with the inability of self-care, or hearing voices that urge the person to hurt themselves or others. “Some of the big risk factors are command hallucinations where voices are telling a person to hurt himself or someone else,” said Rosenberg. “In the short-term, some will self-medicate with alcohol or drugs that ameliorate symptoms, but ultimately exacerbate the psychosis and dangerous behaviors. These patients are the diagnostic and therapeutic orphans of mental health care.”

“The real tragedy is that so often these events are preventable if appropriate intervention and after-care is available,” said Rosenberg.

To speak to Dr. Rosenberg about mental health issues and how they can lead to tragedies such as the one on Oct. 3, 2013 in Washington, D.C., please contact Julie O’Connor, director of Research Communications at Wayne State University at 313-577-8845 (business hours) or 734-748-4207 (after hours).