ECT Method To Help Women Recover From Postpartum Psychosis - Expert

Last update: 15/02/2017

By Noorazlina Jindeh

KUALA LUMPUR,(Bernama) -- The electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) method is an alternative to taking antipsychotic medication and psychological therapy to treat women suffering from postpartum psychosis, a symptom of severe depression after delivery.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) psychiatrist, Dr Umi Adzlin Silim said the ECT method uses electric current to rebalance hormonal changes in the brain of the patient, whose action is out of control.

The treatment is normally used on women or mothers who are at risk of endangering themselves and their babies.

"This ECT treatment is safe and is usually being carried out at least six times over a period of several days. Each session typically takes less than 30 minutes," she told Bernama recently.

She said it was effective in healing the patient but medication should also be continued to supplement the (ECT) treatment.

The symptoms of postpartum psychosis, also known as 'puerperal psychosis', is a mental illness that not only stems from emotional stress but is also caused by genetic factors, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

According to Dr Umi Adzlin, even though only one in 1,000 women suffered from postpartum psychosis, the effects of the symptoms could cause them to act aggressively.

"Those suffering from this illness may hallucinate and their action will depend on the hallucination, if they heard 'voices' asking them to kill, that's what will happen," she added.

Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Sri Kota Specialist Medical Centre, Selangor, Dr B. Vinodhini said 10 to 15 per cent of women would experience emotional problems after delivery.

She said every woman would experience postpartum 'baby blues' but they would recover from the symptoms within two weeks after delivery. However it can cause postpartum depression if it is left untreated within four to six weeks, which is among the factors of postpartum psychosis.

"The partner and others should be wary of any marked changes in the behaviour of the mother and seek medical attention without delay if it is abnormal," she added.

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty dean, Associate Prof Dr Muhammad Shamsir Mohd Aris said emotional disorders from post delivery or 'prolapse' could be prevented if the family members also played their role and give more attention to the new mothers to detect any changes in their behaviour and emotion.

Meanwhile village midwife Masitah Awang, 55, said the confinement period should be correctly observed to enable the new mother to rest and recover her energy and stablise her emotions.

"While in confinement, the mother is emotionally unstable and further compounded by the baby who needs attention, will stress out her out, causing mood disorders," said Masitah, who has 15 years experience in traditional medicine.

The issue of postpartum psychosis among women after delivery has led to several tragic incidents, including on Feb 4 in which a woman who had recently given birth, slit the throat of her two-month-old baby girl at the Desa Pahlawan Kok Lanas camp quarters in Kota Baru, Kelantan.

On Feb 2016, a new born baby girl was found dead in the compound of an apartment in Danau Kota, believed to have been flung down from the 18th storey of the building.

In June 2001, in Texas, United States, a woman Andrea Pia Kennedy Yates, who had suffered from severe postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis, drowned her five children, aged six months to seven years, in a bath tub in her home.