Mental Incapacity – Post Postpartum Depression

Mental Incapacity - Post Postpartum Depression

Behavior that raises red flags, such as in the example you listed in your original post, should help support the argument of the party attempting to avoid a contract due to the mental incapacity of a party to the K. The example you used in which you wrote about postpartum depression is an excellent example of the type of mental condition which manifests itself in many different forms and has many symptoms. [1] It can adversely impact a person’s mental capacity in many different ways. Because of this fact, the manner in which the condition might affect a party’s mental capacity to contract cannot be fully appreciated under the strict scrutiny of the cognitive test. [2]

In fact, some symptoms of postpartum depression might manifest differently in each individual. [3] While there are certain symptoms of the condition such as feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or inadequacy that only trained medical or mental health professionals would recognize, there are some commonly recognizable symptoms of postpartum depression which should give rise to an inference that there is an issue as to the mental capacity of a person to enter into a valid and enforceable agreement. [4] Some of the common symptoms a layperson might recognize, especially in the course of bargaining are: (1) Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions, (2) Depressed mood or severe mood swings, and (3) Severe anxiety and panic attacks. [5]

While the strict and narrow-in-scope cognitive test is limited to acknowledging only the effects of postpartum depression which mentally incapacitates a party so severely that the party is simply unaware of what he is doing, the broader affective test is empowered to include the assessment of conditions that may diminish one’s mental ability to perform without requiring those conditions to rise to the level of a complete cognitive breakdown. [6]

[1] Postpartum depression Symptoms, Mayo Clinic (2015), (last visited Apr 14, 2017).

[2] Brian A. Blum, Examples & Explanations: Contracts 508 (6 ed. 2013).

[3] Postpartum, Supra.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Blum, at 509.


Tags: postpartum depression, mental incapacity, unenforceable agreement


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