Mums of older kids can get postnatal depression too
Postnatal depression can affect mums of toddlers and older children, as this Malaysian mum's sad tragedy shows us.
We hear of mums affected by postnatal depression and harming themselves and/or their baby all the time.
It can be easy to judge these mums—how could they do this to their child? But it's also important to remember that they are suffering from a clinical condition, making them less capable of controlling their actions.
Often, postnatal depression is associated with those with very young babies. But it can affect mums with older children too, as reflected in the following heartbreaking case.
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On December 1, a 35-year-old Malaysian mother allegedly killed her two young sons, aged three and five.
She is believed to be mentally unstable, according to The New Paper, and has been remanded in a hospital for a week. This tragedy took place in the town of Sungai Petani in Kedah.
According to Kedah CID chief Assistant Commissioner Mohd Nashir Ya:
"Her husband is working in Singapore. The boys’ grandfather returned home around 3pm, and was shocked to find them dead with their throats slit... One of the children also had a slash wound on his wrist."
The woman, who had a cut on her left wrist, was found in another room and arrested at the scene.
We tend to think that it's mothers of very young babies who are more affected by postnatal depression.
But research shows that mothers are actually more likely to suffer depression when their child reaches toddlerhood.
According to a recent study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, more than 14% of women suffered depression when their child was 4.
What's more, women with only one baby were twice as likely to be affected by postnatal depression when their child reaches 4, compared to those who had more children.
What these findings show, the researchers say, is that we need to rethink policies around mothers' mental health. In addition to the after-birth period, mums require monitoring for depression at later windows.
We can't help but agree, especially in the wake of incidents like this Kedah tragedy. Postnatal depression is definitely a treatable and preventable condition. It would have been fortunate for those two little boys had their mother gotten timely help.
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