What was Andrea Yates insanity defense and mental disorder.

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jgeertz | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Although she pled not guilty by reason of insanity, Andrea Yates was convicted of two counts of murder in the 2001 bathtub drownings of her five children and sentenced to life in prison. Her case was subsequently appealed and overturned in 2006 when she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was remanded to a state mental health facility.

Andrea Yates had a long history of psychiatric problems when she was diagnosed with postpartum depression or PPD. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th Edition (DSM-IV), PPD often is accompanied by other anxiety disorders including a percentage of women who experience obsessive thoughts of infanticide and/or suicide. Defense attorneys argued that Andrea Yates suffered from postpatum psychosis and schizoaffective disorder and that she had discontinued her antipsychotic medications. Her mental illness caused her to experience the delusion that killing her children would save them from eternal damnation.

Her case was well-publicized in the media leading to a greater understanding of the nature of postpartum depression and the urgency for it to be treated.