updated 25 Jan 2011, 04:12
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Mon, Jan 24, 2011
The Star/ANN
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Doc: Mums with post-natal blues can harm babies
by Loh Foon Fong

PETALING JAYA- In severe cases of post-natal depression, mothers harm themselves and their babies, said a consultant psychiatrist.

Prof Dr Hussain Habil said it had also come to his notice that some very disturbed mothers had even tried to flush their newborns down the toilet.

He said such examples depict a serious situation when women are faced with the problem and not getting the proper help or treatment.

Dr Hussain said it was unfortunate that many Malaysians turn to traditional healing without understanding the actual cause of the problem.

"By the time they come to hospital, their condition had deteriorated," he said, commenting on the incidents of six mothers suffering from post-natal depression who were chased out of their homes by husbands who could not live with their condition.

The incidents were highlighted by the MCA public service and complaints department on Friday.

Dr Hussain advised husbands and other family members to refer the new mothers to an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist or a psychiatrist for treatment as early as possible before their condition deteriorated.

He said post-natal depression was quite common and were easily treated but society's mindset has to change.

He said as many as 10% to 20% of mothers suffer from some level of post partum blues, such as irritability, paranoia and not eating or sleeping well.

Early symptoms of post-natal depression include mothers not being able to care for themselves and their babies, not wanting to eat, irritable and displaying regressing behaviours, he said.

"With proper treatment, changes could start to be seen even within a week as patients normally begin to eat and sleep normally," he said, adding that it usually takes two to three months for one to recover.

Dr Hussain said it was important for family members to know that the condition was common and that the mothers were not schizophrenic as some thought.

"While we have medication to treat the mothers, the more important thing is tender loving care and support from husbands," he said.

When family members reject them or put them down, it could worsen their depression, he said.

"The biggest obstacle to the recovery of the patient is when people hush up the case and not refer them to a doctor because of the social stigma," he said.

Read also:

Mums down with post-natal blues chased out of homes


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