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This Chilling Story Of Postpartum Psychosis Will Make You Rethink Maternal Mental Illness

In 2001, Andrea Yates was America's most notorious mom...but how did she get there?

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Fifteen years ago, Andrea Yates drowned her five children in a bathtub. Six years and two trials later, she was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The following is an honest conversation about the Yates tragedy and maternal mental illness today:

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Two years before Andrea Yates committed murder, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and psychosis following the birth of her fourth child. Only a month after her diagnosis, she attempted suicide for the first time.


Andrea's explanation for why she murdered her children was that she believed they would be tortured by Satan if she didn't kill them. Delusions, hallucinations, and strange beliefs are all symptoms of postpartum psychosis.

Currently, Andrea is living in a psychiatric hospital. She no longer exhibits symptoms of psychoses and spends her time raising money for her children's memorial funds (through anonymous craft sales) and watching videos of her family in happier days.


About 20% of mothers suffer from some form of mental illness.

Jordan Shalhoub for BuzzFeed

Postpartum psychosis makes up the smallest portion of that percentage, but it often receives the most media coverage due to its potential for tragic outcomes.

And while Andrea’s story, and this statistic, are chilling, moms are “the most selfless people on the planet.” Sometimes it’s OK to be selfish and put your mental health first, for the good of yourself, and for the good of your children.

If you or someone you love is suffering from maternal mental illness, please see a list of resources here. If you are in an immediate crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

To read more about the Yates Children Memorial Fund, click here.