Hallucinations and delusions that. Alter a mother’s sense of reality are part of postpartum psychosis. Illnesses, which are treatable, need urgent care.
A Massachusetts woman accused of killing. Her three children has shed light on a rare condition. That mental health advocates say is shrouded in shame. Often preventing mothers from seeking treatment.
Postpartum psychosis is an illness in which hallucinations and delusions. Alter a person’s sense of reality after giving birth. Sometimes driving them to harm themselves or their children.
The condition is treatable, but it requires urgent psychiatric care, experts say.
It’s unclear whether mother Lindsay Clancy, 32, of Duxbury, Massachusetts, had postpartum psychosis. Family members did not respond to calls and emails from TTN News Monday. And authorities have not said whether mental health was a factor. When she allegedly suffocated her children before attempting to kill herself last week.
According to TTN Boston. Clancy suffered from postpartum depression, a type of depression. That can hinder a mother’s ability to bond with her child. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 8 mothers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It is one of several mood disorders that can occur after childbirth. Another, postpartum anxiety, causes anxiety so crippling. That it impairs new mothers’ ability to function. Estimates of its prevalence vary. With the advocacy organization Postpartum Support International. Reporting that it occurs in 10% of mothers. Postpartum psychosis is the most severe mental disorder. After having a baby, and it’s also the rarest. Occurring in 1 or 2 of every 1,000 births, according to Postpartum Support International. The onset of symptoms is sudden. And usually occurs within the first few days or weeks after delivery. Although they may appear later.
Besides to hallucinations and delusions, symptoms of postpartum psychosis include insomnia, irritability. Paranoia, restlessness, and rapid mood swings.
Thoughts of self-harm or harming others, especially one’s children. May also be part of the condition but are less common. Among mothers with postpartum psychosis. About 5% will attempt suicide and 4% will commit infanticide. Says Michelle Davidson, postpartum psychosis expert and board member of Postpartum Support International.
When these mothers kill, it is often done under the mistaken belief that they are protecting. Their children from a worse fate.
“In all cases of true postpartum psychosis, there’s really no malicious intent,” she said. “It’s basically these women trying to save their kids or get their kids to heaven.”
Barriers to treatment
Asking for help can be difficult, says Dr. Phillip Resnick. A professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University.
“Women in our society who have children, they will love that child immediately,” she said. “If someone has postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis, they can’t feel normal motherhood. So they feel guilty and even reluctant to tell their husband. Or their obstetrician or pediatrician about their feelings.” And when patients bring their symptoms to doctors. They don’t always get the right diagnosis, experts say.
Resnick has spent decades studying parents who kill their children. And testified for the defense in the case of Texas mother Andrea Yates. Who shocked the nation in June 2001 when she confessed. To drowning her five children one by one in the family bathtub. Her children ranged in age from 6 months to 7 years. And Yates’ attorneys said she was suffering from postpartum depression. And postpartum psychosis. When she decided killing her children would save them from going to hell.
“The first time I saw her, three weeks after the murder. She felt justified and she did what was best for her children,” Resnick said.
A few months later, after being treated with antidepressants. And antipsychotics, Resnick said, “she admitted. That she had had previous psychotic convictions. And of course had terrible remorse and severe depression over the loss of her children.”
Yates was initially convicted of murder before that conviction. And was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006. He is currently receiving treatment in a psychiatric hospital. And has declined an annual hearing. To determine his eligibility to leave the facility.
In Massachusetts, Lindsey Clancy is charged with two counts each of manslaughter. And three counts each of strangulation and assault and battery.
In a statement released Saturday, her husband Patrick said. His wife was battling an unspecified condition. And apologized for the death of their 5-year-old daughter Cora. 3-year-old son Dawson and 8-month-old son Callan.