4 Differences Between Clinical Depression and Post-Partum Depression

4 Differences Between Clinical Depression and Post-Partum Depression

When it comes to depression, many people struggle to understand what is happening to them. They often seek a clear picture of what caused their mental illness, but this task is quite the challenge. Therefore, you might benefit from learning the following four differences between clinical and postpartum depression:

  • Postpartum depression is related to childbirth
  • It has varying ranges of severity
  • It affects one’s sense of self differently
  • Its treatment is unique

With this information, you can seek the best help for your unique problem.

About Clinical Depression

The topic of depression has many aspects, including what causes it and its severity. Many categories of depression range from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent states of feeling worthless. The Mayo Clinic’s post, Depression, gives additional insight into clinical depression, which is considered one of the more severe forms that can affect people of any age. This mental health issue is unassociated with loss or a medical condition, so your healthcare provider may diagnose you as she refers to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. To be diagnosed with clinical depression, you must have five or more of the following symptoms over a two-week period for most of the day nearly every day:

  • Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty or tearful (children and teens may seem this way if they are constantly irritable)
  • Significantly reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain in spite of decreases or increases in appetite (children may fail to gain weight as expected)
  • Insomnia or increased desire to sleep
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior that other people can observe
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Trouble making decisions, thinking or concentrating
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempts at suicide

Your symptoms must be severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or socializing. Symptoms may be based on your own feelings or on the observations of someone else.

About Postpartum Depression

Prepared by the Mayo Clinic, the post, Postpartum Depression explores the range of symptoms associated with the eponymous condition. While you cannot pinpoint the cause of clinical depression, the causes of postpartum depression have a clear relationship to childbirth, which physically and emotionally changes women. For instance, the dramatic drop in hormones after childbirth contributes to this condition, so, before diagnosing you with it, your healthcare provider will look at other explanations, from baby blues to psychosis. Baby blues typically only last a few days or up to two weeks, and it may cause mood swings, anxiety, sadness, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, crying, reduced concentration, appetite problems and trouble sleeping. On the other hand, the symptoms of postpartum depression are often more intense and last much longer. Thy may interfere with your ability to care for your baby and to handle other daily tasks, as symptoms may include a depressed mood, severe mood swings, excessive crying, loss of appetite or eating much more than usual. You may also experience an inability to sleep or sleep too much, suffer from an overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy and have reduced interest in activities you used to enjoy. You may also exhibit intense irritability and anger, a diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions and severe anxiety and panic attacks. Postpartum depression has a level of intensity, severity and duration that doctors will look at when making a diagnosis.

A Sense of Self

In addition to generalized depressive symptoms that can affect anyone, a new mother with postpartum depression may also contend with the following issues:

  • Being sleep deprived
  • Feeling overwhelmed, which may cause you to have trouble handling even minor problems
  • Feeling anxious about your ability to care for a newborn
  • Feeling less attractive
  • Struggling with your sense of identity
  • Feeling as if you have lost control over your life
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Fearing that you are a poor mother
  • Feeling worthless, shame, guilt or inadequate
  • Having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide

Untreated postpartum depression may last for many months or longer, so seek help as soon as possible to treat this dangerous problem.

Treatment for Clinical and Postpartum Depression

The aforementioned Mayo Clinic posts discuss viable treatment for both types of depression, but a first line of care is usually medication and psychotherapy. Doctors often start by prescribing a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, because these medications are safe and generally cause fewer side effects than other antidepressants. However, other options include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors, atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. On the other hand, mothers who breastfeed their children may need to forego medication, because many drugs they consume can enter breast milk. In response, women who struggle with postpartum depression are encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices, set realistic expectations, make time for themselves, avoid isolation and ask for help managing their daily tasks.

Learn About Clinical and Postpartum Depression

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