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Mother seen ruthlessly beating a child on video might have postpartum psychosis

Post-partum psychosis is a completely treatable extreme mood disorder that new moms may develop.

delhi Updated: Dec 21, 2016 13:59 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times
mother beats child,geeta colony,child-beater mom
Security camera footage caught a woman assaulting a child ruthlessly in Geeta colony, New Delhi.

Doctors suspect postpartum psychosis, a diagnosable mental condition, to be the reason behind the woman brutally beating up her one-and-a-half-year-old son in Geeta colony.

Post-partum psychosis is a completely treatable extreme mood disorder that new moms may develop. “It looks like a case of postpartum psychosis, and it is important that we are sympathetic towards the mother. Instead of punishing her, she should be made to undergo a complete mental evaluation and proper treatment,” said Dr SK Khandelwal, head of the department of psychiatry at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Caught on camera | Mother brutally thrashes toddler

This is not unheard of as almost 30 to 40% mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Postpartum psychosis, which is more severe, is less common but not infrequent, said Dr Khandelwal.

“After delivery, a woman experiences many hormonal changes that make her sensitive, lower her tolerance threshold and cause depression. Physical exhaustion from staying up at nights, feeding and taking care of the baby also takes its toll,” said Dr Sameer Malhotra, director of mental health and behavioural sciences at Delhi’s Max Hospitals.

Read | Delhi woman seen ‘brutally’ beating up child in viral video

“Displaced anger — taking out the frustration of the husband, in-laws or other family members on the helpless child is another possibility,” he said.

Dr Smitha Deshpande, head of the department of psychiatry at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, said, “Such behaviour can be seen in mothers when they feel completely helpless or in mothers with certain obsessions like cleanliness, and as we know keeping everything tidy with a child around is difficult, so they turn towards the child in anger.”

The doctors emphasised on post-natal care and social support to help new mothers cope up. “Maternal and child care does not end with a healthy delivery; we also need to ensure that they lead a healthy life afterwards. Immunisation and follow-up visits for the child must be a part of post-natal clinics, which must also focus on physical as well as mental well-being of mothers,” said Dr Khandelwal.

When to seek treatment?

•If the mother is unable to follow a proper routine – like sleeping or eating on time

•If the mother is neglecting her hygiene, food, water

•If the mother stops taking care of the child

•If the mother gets irritated of small things like a noise etc

•If she has verbal outbursts

What is the treatment?

•Reassurance for the mother that this phase would pass

•Counselling mother about having nutritious food and taking care of herself

•Counselling family members about providing support to the new mom

•Sometimes, anti-depressants that are completely safe for lactating mothers

First Published: Dec 21, 2016 07:23 IST