PPD: What Does It Mean? And How Do You Diagnose It? [Mental Health Awareness Series #1]


To quote myself in a post after the tragedy in Jerusalem:

“Post-partum depressive order, which includes anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, are also technically considered post-partum if they are diagnosed within four weeks of delivery. However, most providers agree that if an incident occurs within one year of delivery/pregnancy, it’s post-partum related.”

Statistically, 1 out of every ten women who give birth will suffer some type of postpartum depression that needs to be treated. While we do not know the origins or cause of PPD, we do know that some women seem to have a propensity for developing it, as revealed in an Israeli study that found women who had PPD in the past, even when they no longer had clinical symptoms, had a different gene expression than those women who had never reported PPD. This discovery shows us that there is a group of susceptible women, who, once they develop the illness are much more susceptible for it to recur.

Tipat Chalav nurses have been trained to identify women who may be suffering from PPD, according to guidelines of a mandatory training. However, the success of this plan obviously depends on the authenticity and expertise of the nurse and the openness, and self-awareness of the mother.

In 2014, the Ministry of Health updated their policy regarding identifying women with possible PPD to the following. All women, from the 26th week of pregnancy on, and during 6-8 weeks postnatally, should be evaluated by a doctor and/or nurse using the official Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the gold standard in easy evaluation of a woman’s mental health. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember any doctor asking me anything about my mental health.

So what do you do if you are feeling like you:

  1. Are just not ‘getting back’ to yourself, a few months after the birth.
  2. You feel scared, or wary of being with your infant, alone.
  3. You feel hopeless about the future.
  4. What used to be simple tasks now feel completely overwhelming.

These are feelings that are often less identified as PPD, and yet can be quite indicative that something is off.

So what are your options in getting help?

1)  Try to speak to your family doctor about this. If you feel comfortable with him/her, bring up these feelings. 

2) Reach out to the mental health clinic system in your kupah. Each system works a bit differently, but if you are having a significant burden, this is the most comprehensive service offered.

3) Each kupah has subsidized treatment for therapy sessions.  Go through the list and identify those who say they speak English, and when you speak with them, ask them if they have experience working with women with PPD.

4) For more severe situations, there are several hospitals that have good outpatient/inpatient services, like Sheba/TelHashomer

and Ma’ayani Hayeshua in B’nei Brak.

The most important thing, however, in all this, is to tell someone.  Your spouse, a friend, medical professional, someone. You are NOT alone in all this, and you can get the support and help you need.

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