Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

  • Hebrew
  • English
  • Espnaol
  • Francais
  • donate

Postpartum Mood Disorders

Most of us feel sad or miserable at one time or another. Clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration persist for an extended time to a degree that they interfere with everyday life. When this condition occurs during pregnancy or within a year of delivery it is called perinatal depression. When it occurs within a year of childbirth, it is also referred to as postpartum depression.

Diagnosis of depression during pregnancy is sometimes difficult as the normal changes of pregnancy often lead to similar complaints – fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and changes in body weight. Similar phenomena can also occur when a woman awakens frequently to care for an infant. But when the symptoms are severe enough to affect the functioning of the woman or her family, and do not improve with simple interventions to assure adequate sleep, a diagnosis of depression should be considered.

It is not uncommon for women to experience extremes in mood during the days after childbirth. Some feel very sad and weepy (“baby blues”), others feel euphoric and as if they could conquer the world, others swing from one extreme to the other. Any of these within the first two weeks, as long as there are no serious thoughts of harming oneself or the baby, are normal and are not a cause for concern. Simple interventions to assist the mother generally help her feel better. These include letting her nap when the baby naps and reducing to the absolute minimum any other household responsibilities of the new mother. Even better than waiting to see if the mother will have trouble is to prepare in advance for help in the house – a gift of household help is of greater use to most families than yet another outfit the infant will soon outgrow.

If the feelings do not subside after two weeks, or if such feelings begin spontaneously during the first year, consultation with a physician should be considered. True clinical depression can be distinguished from simply feeling sad because of the much greater impact on a woman’s well being and functioning.

Treatment of the mother is important for both the mother and her infant; studies have shown impact such as decreased weight gain among infants of depressed mothers. Depending on degree, treatment can include counseling, support groups and/or medication. With help, the condition resolves. In general, if intervention begins sooner, the duration of postpartum depression and the associated suffering can be minimized. Thus it is important not to be embarrassed and to ask for help if one suspects one is depressed.

Information specific to observant Jewish women can be obtained through NITZA – The Israel Center for Maternal Health. NITZA was founded in 1997 as a grassroots organization supporting and financially assisting women across Israel suffering from the devastating effects of Postpartum Depression and its related syndromes.

Phone: (02) 533-2810 (from outside Israel, 972-2-533-2810)
Email: [email protected]
Internet Address:

You can also find out more about depression during and after pregnancy by contacting the National Women’s Health Information Center (NWHIC) at 1-800-994-9662 or the following organizations.

National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS 
Phone: (301) 496-9576
Internet Address:

National Mental Health Information Center, SAMHSA, HHS
Phone: (800) 789-2647
Internet Address:

American Psychological Association 
Phone: (800) 374-2721
Internet Address:

National Mental Health Association
Phone: (800) 969-NMHA
Internet Address:

Postpartum Education for Parents 
Phone: (805) 564-3888
Internet Address:

Postpartum Support International
Phone: (800) 944-4773
Internet Address:

Users of Internet filtering services: This site discusses sensitive subjects that some services filter without visual indication. A page that appears 100% complete might actually be missing critical Jewish-law or medical information. To ensure that you view the pages accurately, ask the filtering service to whitelist all pages under

All health and health-related information contained within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is intended to be general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for consulting with your health care professional. The advice is intended to offer a basis for individuals to discuss their medical condition with their health care provider but not individual advice. Although every effort is made to ensure that the material within Nishmat's Women's Health & Halacha Web site is accurate and timely, it is provided for the convenience of the Web site user but should not be considered official. Advice for actual medical practice should be obtained from a licensed health care professional.

Accessibility Toolbar