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An eye on postpartum depression, in light of Massachusetts mother tragedy: What to know

Byharjotsinghjaspal

Feb 1, 2023
An eye on postpartum depression, in light of Massachusetts mother tragedy: What to know
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This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

A Massachusetts nurse who will be facing charges in the deaths of her three young children ages 5, 3 and 8 months old in Duxbury, Massachusetts, has scores of people wondering why a mother of three would be at the center of a horrific tragedy. 

Lindsay Clancy, 32, was hospitalized last week after she appeared to attempt suicide by jumping out a window of the family home after allegedly injuring her three children that led to their deaths, Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz said last week, as Fox News Digital reported earlier. 

MASSACHUSETTS CLANCY KILLINGS: MOTHERS’ MURDERS ‘UNLIKE ANY OTHER TYPE OF HOMICIDE,’ ANDREA YATES’ LAWYER SAYS

The gut-wrenching incident has prompted speculation based on recent Facebook posts that Clancy may have suffered from postpartum depression (PPD).

Cruz, however, declined to say if this was a contributing factor in the tragic case.

Duxbury Police work at the scene where two children were found dead and an infant injured on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Authorities responding on Tuesday night to reports of a woman jumping out of a window at a house found the children unconscious with obvious signs of trauma. The mother, Lindsay Clancy, remains hospitalized and will be arraigned on homicide charges after she is released, Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said Wednesday. 
(David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via AP)

Here is more about the condition known as postpartum depression.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a medical condition that occurs in many women.

POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION AMONG BIRTH MOMS: HOW WOMEN ARE BREAKING THE STIGMA

It can occur within one to three weeks after a mother gives birth to a baby, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

In some cases, the feelings are so overwhelming that the parent cannot take care of herself or the baby — and may even include suicidal thoughts.

The condition involves strong feelings of anxiety, sadness and fatigue that can last for weeks or months after a baby is born. 

In some cases, the feelings are so overwhelming that the parent cannot take care of herself or the baby and may even include suicidal thoughts, according to health experts. 

Approximately 1 in 8 women who recently had a live birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression, according to the CDC.

Some 10% to 20% of women in the United States are affected by postpartum depression, according to health experts. "There are many contributing factors, which include prenatal depression, child care stress, prenatal anxiety and life stress," said one New York City psychologist.

Some 10% to 20% of women in the United States are affected by postpartum depression, according to health experts. “There are many contributing factors, which include prenatal depression, child care stress, prenatal anxiety and life stress,” said one New York City psychologist.
(iStock)

“Postpartum depression affects 10% to 20% of women in the United States and negatively influences maternal, infant and family health,” Dr. Jayme Albin, PhD, a licensed psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist in New York City, told Fox News Digital. 

Albin also said, “There are many contributing factors, which include prenatal depression, child care stress, prenatal anxiety and life stress.” 

“Spouses or partners can do their part by paying attention to mood and behavior changes and responding by getting their partner the help that’s needed …”

She said other factors can include the mother’s social support system, her marital relationship or status, a history of previous depression, an infant’s temperament, maternity blues and the family’s socioeconomic status.

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Mental health experts told Fox News Digital that it is important for people to recognize the signs of postpartum depression. 

Spouses or partners can do their part by paying attention to mood and behavior changes and responding by getting their partner the help that’s needed, whether it’s child care help, mental health help or social/emotional help,” Albin told Fox News Digital.  

Postpartum depression occurs not just in moms. It can also occur in the father of a newborn child, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

Postpartum depression doesn't affect just moms. It can affect as many as one in four fathers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Postpartum depression doesn’t affect just moms. It can affect as many as one in four fathers, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
(iStock)

The 2019 guidelines established by the AAP regarding screening for postpartum depression discussed studies that showed that postpartum depression can be prevalent in as many as one in four fathers.  

Because of this, the AAP suggested physicians should also include screening the partner as well as the baby’s mother. 

“The six-month visit was chosen for screening because paternal depression was highest at three to six months postpartum,” one author noted in a report regarding the guidelines posted in the American Academy of Family Journal.  

“Sadly, there is no way to pinpoint who will be affected by postpartum depression.”

The new AAP guideline specifies using the well child visits at ages one, two, four and six months to screen for postpartum depression — and as a venue for proper referral for treatment and immediate help if a parent demonstrates suicidal thoughts. 

“Sadly, there is no way to pinpoint who will be affected by postpartum depression,” Christine MacInnis, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Torrance, California, told Fox News Digital.

“Every new mom can experience this because it’s related to so many factors. From extreme changes in the woman’s body, her hormones, becoming a mother and the immense responsibility of it — and when you add in sleepless nights, the chances of a new mom becoming completely overwhelmed, anxious and suffering from depression are high,” said MacInnis. 

She is also the CEO and founder of Transcends Therapy in Torrance.

Many people underestimate the value of a good night's sleep for new moms while they recover from childbirth, said one health expert. 

Many people underestimate the value of a good night’s sleep for new moms while they recover from childbirth, said one health expert. 
(iStock)

Many people undervalue the need for a new mom to get a decent night’s sleep while she’s recovering from childbirth, said MacInnis.

“So spouses really do need to support this process by allowing the new mom to get as much sleep as she can and helping out in ways that are possible for them.”

GET BETTER SLEEP AT NIGHT WITH THE HELP OF 10 SMART PRODUCTS

Postpartum depression has been linked to a shorter duration of breastfeeding, incorrect medical treatment of the baby, greater risk of abuse or neglect, and potential adverse impacts on the baby’s brain development, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. 

“If you are feeling great distress, do not be afraid to ask for help … This is a common occurrence and there is no shame.”

The group also noted that infants who grow up with a mother who experiences significant postpartum depression are at risk for issues with social-emotional, language and cognition development.  

Symptoms of postpartum depression, says the CDC, are similar to symptoms of depression.

The Mayo Clinic points out that "rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth." It also says that "prompt treatment" can help new parents manage the symptoms and bond with their baby.

The Mayo Clinic points out that “rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.” It also says that “prompt treatment” can help new parents manage the symptoms and bond with their baby.
(iStock)

However, they may also include crying more often than usual, feeling angry, feeling distant from the new baby, withdrawing from loved ones, feeling overly anxious and worrying, doubting one’s ability to take care of the baby, and thoughts of hurting either self or baby. 

The condition is treatable with therapy — and in some cases medication — according to health experts. 

“For new moms, if you are feeling great distress, do not be afraid to ask for help. We need to normalize that this is a common occurrence and there is no shame for the mom to experience it,” MacInnis told Fox News Digital.

Postpartum psychosis: What is it? 

As the Mayo Clinic explains on its website, “Some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression. Sometimes it’s called peripartum depression because it can start during pregnancy and continue after childbirth. Rarely, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.”

The Mayo Clinic notes the following: “Postpartum depression is not a character flaw or a weakness. Sometimes it’s simply a complication of giving birth. If you have postpartum depression, prompt treatment can help you manage your symptoms and help you bond with your baby.”

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For Immediate help or if the situation is potentially life-threatening, call 911.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you can also call or text 988 — or chat at 988lifeline.org.

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The number 988 is confidential, free and available 24/7. It connects those experiencing a mental health, substance use, or suicidal crisis with trained crisis counselors.





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