The killing of a 10-month-old Plano, Tx., girl on Monday, apparently by a mother suffering postpartum depression, was the third high-profile tragedy of its kind in Texas in four years, says the Dallas Morning News. Last year a mother in East Texas killed her three children by bashing them with stones. In 2001 Andrea Yates of Houston drowned her five children in a bathtub. Such cases are rare. Postpartum psychosis affects one-tenth of one percent of new mothers, says the National Mental Health Association. Although media attention may make it seem more common, such killings go back to ancient times.
Betsy Schwartz of the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston said “baby blues” typically last about two weeks. Beyond that, she said, “If a mother has difficulty sleeping even when the baby sleeps, or has a lack of interest, or is not finding pleasure in anything about the newborn, or has low energy, or a change in appetite and decreasing ability to take care of the baby – or thoughts of suicide – any of those symptoms can be a sign of post-partum depression.” The condition affects 10 percent to 20 percent of new mothers and can last up to a year. The rarest and worst cases involve postpartum psychosis. In some cases, having children can exacerbate existing mental problems.