Postpartum psychosis in spotlight after death of three kids

(NewsNation) — Nearly 22 years after Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub, another case of alleged infanticide is again putting the rare condition known as postpartum psychosis in the spotlight as experts hope to increase knowledge and awareness of the mental disease.

A Texas mother was initially convicted of murder but later found not guilty by reason of insanity after a retrial. She was committed to a mental health facility, and her husband forgave her.

Earlier this month, Lindsay Clancy, a midwife in Massachusetts, allegedly strangled her three children before attempting suicide. She now faces murder charges. Clancy’s husband spoke out for the first time Saturday, asking others to forgive his wife, just as he said he has.

“The real Lindsay was generously loving and caring towards everyone — me, our kids, family, friends, and her patients. The very fibers of her soul are loving,” Patrick Clancy wrote in a message on GoFundMe. “All I wish for her now is that she can somehow find peace.”

He also shared thoughts about his wife, saying, “Our marriage was wonderful and diametrically grew stronger as her condition rapidly worsened.”

Although he did not specify her “condition,” experts have suggested she may have suffered from postpartum psychosis, just as Andrea Yates did.

Russell “Rusty Yates, Andrea’s former husband, joined “CUOMO” on Monday to discuss postpartum psychosis and the difficulty in spotting the signs of it, as was the case with him and his wife.

“Andrea was a wonderful mother,” Yates said. “At the time, I did not know that she’d been psychotic, I did not know what psychosis even was or what the symptoms were. The next step of forgiveness (for other people), I’d say, is understanding it’s a sickness, that but for her sickness, she would never, ever, ever would have harmed our children.”

Authorities say the 32-year-old Clancy killed her two older children, Cora, 5 and Dawson, 3, and gravely injured her 7-month-old, Callan, who died at a hospital Friday. Clancy’s husband found her outside the home Jan. 24 after it’s believed she jumped out of a second-story window in suicide attempt.

She is facing multiple charges of murder, strangulation and assault.

Postpartum psychosis is an extreme mood disorder that occurs in one or two out of every 1,000 deliveries, according to Postpartum Support International. Symptoms include delusions, hallucinations and paranoia, and it can lead to thoughts of suicide or homicide.

“I think the most important thing to realize is that no mother would ever want to go through this, no family would ever want to go through this, and it’s really out of their control when they have psychotic thoughts and have a break from reality and you end up having these kinds of terrible things happen,” said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, a perinatal psychiatrist.

Meltzer-Brody noted that postpartum psychosis can be hard to pick up on.

“Often in postpartum psychosis, women have delusional thoughts but they’re very quiet about it, so they’re often not sharing what they’re thinking so the family doesn’t necessarily know,” Meltzer-Brody said. “Sometimes you see a change in functioning, people can get very withdrawn, their thinking may look strange, they may not be themselves, but you have no idea what else is going on and because it can happen so suddenly, that’s what makes it so potentially difficult to intervene quickly.”


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