Friends: Mom accused of stabbing son had postpartum psychosis

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That's the same mental illness lawyers argued led Andrea Yates to drown her five children in 2001

Neighbors and strangers alike wondered how anyone in their right mind could do what Jenea Mungia allegedly did to her own son Ayden at their James River Lane home Thursday. But friends say she wasn't in her right mind. They told us at the scene that she was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis after Ayden's birth.

"If that condition deteriorates, becomes worse, the patient begins to have very bizarre thinking in addition to the depression, begins to think they're a bad person, begins to think that they shouldn't be alive, that the baby shouldn't be alive," says Dr. Richard Pesikoff.

Dr. Pesikoff is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine. He was an expert witness in the Andrea Yates trial.

"These patients, if they are getting what are called command hallucinations from some invisible forces, have been known to do some pretty horrendous things to children," he said.

"In Andrea's case, she was doing what she believed was the best thing for her children," says George Parnham.

Parnham was the lead defense attorney for the Yates case. In his experience with defendants like Yates and Mungia, he says reality eventually sets in.

"When mom unravels and she will unravel as a result of medication and therapeutic care, she will hit a wall where she realizes my golly what I thought was the right thing to do is absolutely not the right thing to do. Then we hit the grieving process," Parnham said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office tells us Mungia is undergoing medical and mental evaluations. At this point, that postpartum psychosis diagnosis is unconfirmed.

Dr. Pesikoff says postpartum psychosis usually resolves in six to 12 month, but another expert tells us if it's not treated properly it could last for years.
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mental healthchild stabbingmother chargedHoustonHarris County
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