TODAY

TODAY   |  October 04, 2013

Did woman in D.C. chase have postpartum depression?

Psychologist Jennifer Hartstein says that if the woman shot by Capitol police Thursday suffered from postpartum depression, that could have caused her act in an extreme way. In reaction to reports that the woman had once been injured in a fall, Hartstein also explains that untreated head trauma can sometimes cause people to function with less judgment.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> on all of this with psychologist jennifer hartstien.

>> good morning.

>> her mother is quoted as saying she was suffering postpartum depression which raises the question would it ever lead to something like this.

>> it's all speculation. we're trying to put pieces together and it could -- in some cases postpartum depression lead mothers to kill their children and do really difficult cull challenging awful things so it does challenge their judgment. it does make them more impulsive and create bigger problems in some people. we have to be ware that that could be an explanation but we don't know.

>> she offered a fall acouple couple of years ago and started after that.

>> head trauma does cause brain damage . did it damage the functioning part, the front part of her brain that might have caused her to have less judgment, more impul impulsiveness.

>> she was in her early 30s. we're used to seeing situations of young males in their early 20s start to grapple with mental illness . sit possible that there's a kind of mental illness that could come on at this particular age. generally we seen it earlier. who knows. they'll have to do a psychological autopsy into her past and think about what might have lead to this and what signs might have been there.

>> before i let you go i think everybody's heart is with this 1-year-old child. what can be done for her now? what kind of trauma must she have suffered?

>> she'll have the trauma of the chase and losing her mother. she'll be surrounded by family and people and rebuild attachment to those people. she has the benefit of age. she's so young, hopefully that will help her down the road.

>> always good to get your perspective.

>> as you both point out we're in the early stages of this investigation. we don't know what went wrong.