On The Duxbury, Massachusetts Tragedy
Moms Mental Health Initiative is devastated to learn of the tragedy that occurred this week in Duxbury, Massachusetts. Our hearts break for the Clancy family as they navigate impossible grief following these events.
We’ve witnessed a robust conversation surrounding perinatal mental health following this tragedy, as Lindsay Clancy’s youngest child was eight-months-old. Social media posts and local media coverage reference perinatal mental health as a possible cause of these events. While we do not wish to speculate, nor are we familiar with the Clancy family’s situation, Moms Mental Health Initiative supports responsible discussions on perinatal mental health conditions. Furthermore, perinatal mental health is grossly under-supported and deserves more attention, education and resources.
What is Perinatal Mental Health?
Perinatal mental health conditions impact 1 in 5 mothers. “Perinatal” references the period of time from pregnancy through approximately 18 months postpartum, and is a high-risk time for mental health. While postpartum/perinatal depression is most commonly known, other conditions include perinatal anxiety, perinatal obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and, in the most severe cases, postpartum psychosis.
Postpartum psychosis is an extremely rare manifestation of a perinatal mental health condition that separates a mother from reality and may include delusions and hallucinations (visual and auditory). This psychotic state makes her judgment irrational, believing these thoughts to be true (she doesn’t think anything is “wrong”). 70-100% of mothers experience intrusive thoughts- scary thoughts that may include harming themselves or their child. In these cases, a mother is not psychotic but rational in her judgment – she will feel embarrassed or terrified of these thoughts. Postpartum psychosis does not always lead to harm but is a psychiatric emergency in which the person deserves and needs immediate specialized treatment.
Perinatal mental health conditions may worsen if not treated and are the leading cause of death among perinatal women.
A Message to Moms: You Are Not Alone
To any mothers witnessing this discussion, suffering in silence, please know you are not alone. There is hope and there is help. In Southeast Wisconsin, Moms Mental Health Initiative connects moms to qualified providers with knowledge and experience with perinatal mental health conditions. Outside of the area, Postpartum Support International provides excellent resources.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can contact 911 or 988, the National Mental Health Crisis Hotline.