The article that I chose is one from TIME magazine entitled «The Yates Odyssey». It tells the story of the tragic murder of five children by their 37 year old mother, Andrea Yates. The article traces her mental history throughout the years of the marriage and even before the marriage. The article notes that one of the reasons that she even initiated a relationship with her husband Rusty is because she was feeling down about a recent break up and «she got to a point where she needed companionship.» Reporters from TIME did an in depth investigation into the life and mind of Andrea Yates in an attempt to reveal the truths about one of the most appalling and disturbing murder cases of our time. Reporters spoke with Rusty Yates as well as doing interviews with family, friends and various doctors that cared for Andrea in the past. It talks about the various treatment methods that were used in her treatment, which will be a main focus in this report.
The two articles, one from a publication called Patient Care and the other from The Journal of the American Medical Association, mainly speak along the lines of diagnosis and treatment for the depression that Andrea experienced prior to her final breakdown on the fateful day of June 20, 2001. They both state the fact that depression in women occurs at a rate that is about twice that of men. This is partly due to the fact that women seem to be more open when it comes to talking about their emotions, although temporary factors such as menstrual cycle can play a large role in these emotions. They also note that depression as a result of pregnancy is a very common occurrence, which is relevant because Andrea was pregnant a total of six times, one of which resulted in a miscarriage.
Although the media’s coverage of this event and its roots seemed to be very in depth, a look into the studies on the topic of depression show that there are a few aspects that were neglected in the report. One of the major facets of the case that I feel was not discussed in enough detail was that of the treatment, or lack of. The media noted several occasions in which Andrea was given medication in order to control her depression. Some of these medications such as Zoloft and Haldol, which are antidepressants that induced positive changes in her personality and demeanor, were given periodically to Andrea. This was in part because she refused to take the pills and also because the doctors who were treating her sometimes called for a stoppage of the treatment. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, this case could be considered incomplete recovery. It is also noted that medication should continue for at least six months after recovery. TIME magazine failed to note these preceding facts. I feel that this may have been left out intentionally as to not place any type of blame on the doctors who treated her. It is hard to determine whether or not this was omitted because the trial is yet to take place and they do not want to influence the minds of anyone who may be involved in the decision.
I feel that these types of decisions by the press are made in order to exaggerate the faults in the psyche of the patient. It appears as if they are making every attempt possible to display Andrea as insane. I am not saying that I feel she should not be held accountable for her actions, but I feel that the incident could have been avoided if the correct precautions had been taken.
Although the article seemed to leave out an important fact such as that of incomplete recovery, it did cover significant areas in understanding Andrea’s depression. The TIME article mentioned that several members of her immediate family have been diagnosed with depression and are currently undergoing treatment. According to Patient Care, this is the first factor that increases a woman’s risk in being diagnosed with depression. It also points out that depression after pregnancy affects 8% to 15 % of new mothers within three months. This percentage increases as that mother births more children; up to 30% of mothers who have had prior depression due to pregnancy are affected by postpartum depression.
A second difference between the TIME report and the articles is that of Andrea’s seclusion. The fact that she isolated herself from the others around her was greatly stressed in the article. I know this is an apparent sign of depression, but I would have liked to see significant statements in the reports showing that seclusion is a major sign of depression. In my opinion, the fact that this was not mentioned in the research can take away from either its significance in the story or the validity of the research. After looking at the positive and negative aspects of both the research and the media article, I feel that these studies are worth citing because they illustrate the misconceptions that sometimes occur as a result of the media’s interpretation of a situation.