4 Differences Between Clinical Depression and Post-Partum Depression

4 Differences Between Clinical Depression and Post-Partum Depression

When you are a new mother, it is an incredibly happy and stressful time. You may even feel overwhelmed as there are so many things to do. This is common. You may even feel depressed or sad during this time, and you are not sure why. You may wonder if it is clinical depression or post-partum depression. To help you know the differences between the two, this summary will focus on four differences between the two conditions. This is just a guide. It is best to seek out the individual attention of your medical doctor before coming to any conclusions. Depression is a complex mental health issue, so please do not overlook it or assume that any changes in mental health are not serious. Four of the primary differences between depression and post-partum depression include the following:

Post-partum Depression Is Very Time-Sensitive

Post-partum depression comes after childbirth. Not all sources agree on how long it can take to develop as each woman’s body may take a longer time to recover. For example, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), says postpartum depression is distinguished from other major mood disorders by the postpartum specifier, which is the Postpartum Onset. This specifier defines post-partum depression as a depressive episode that begins within four weeks of giving birth.[1] In most cases, post-partum depression develops within the first three months after childbirth. However, in some cases, it can develop anywhere from a few weeks to a year after delivery. In general, the more severe your post-partum depression symptoms are, the longer it may take for you to get better.

Post-partum Depression Is Directly Related to Childbirth

According to Mayoclinic, some of the common symptoms of post-partum depression include feelings of worthlessness or sadness, lack of sleeping, fatigue or loss of energy, inbalanced hormone levels, extreme highs and lows, thoughts of self injury or harming your baby.  For example, you may find yourself snapping at your spouse or friends for no good reason. Then you may find yourself crying uncontrollably for no specific reason. If you are expressing any of these symptoms or if something just does not feel right, please speak to your doctor immediately.

Post-partum Depression Can Also Be Connected With Aspects of Motherhood

Many mothers with post-partum depression experience feelings of being inadequate as a mother. Some are consumed with feelings of disappointment as having a baby is often considered one of the best times in life. A lack of connection with your child is something that many mothers with post-partum depression have as well. In this case, you may not feel connected to your child. This feeling can be very scary and overwhelming as you just feel the proper bond is not there between yourself and your child. You may even want to compare your situation to what you see on TV or hear from other mothers and this can make you feel worse. Do not hesitate to reach out for help as post-partum depression treatment options are available.

Treatment Varies for post-partum Depression

Post-partum depression has several different forms of treatment such as psychotherapy, medication or possibly both. With psychotherapy, it often helps to talk through your concerns with a counselor or therapist. This leads to finding better ways to cope with your feelings, solve problems and also to respond to situations with a positive attitude. In some cases, going to therapy with your family or spouse can help as well.

Another common treatment for post-partum depression is the use of medication like Klonopin. If you are breastfeeding, the doctor will take that into consideration, and the good news is that in most cases there are very little risk of side effects for your baby. With treatment, in most cases post-partum depression goes away within six months. In some cases it can last longer, which then would become chronic or minor depression.

With clinical depression, this is also called major depression. This is a state of feeling depressed most of the day for over two weeks. This depression affects every part of your life and is not related to childbirth. If you struggle with major depression, you experience a loss in normal activities and even relationships. Common reasons for major depression include grief from the loss of a loved one, isolation or extreme loneliness, major life changes such as moving, personal conflicts and in some cases, abuse.

Because of the nature of depression, be sure to communicate to your loved ones how you are really feeling instead of holding inside any negative thoughts or feelings. There is no one single known cause for why post-partum depression exists. In many cases, it may be hereditary or be due to other physical reasons. Communicate openly with your doctor about how you feel. If you need someone to talk to, call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline right now. You can speak with one of our counselors. You are not alone, and you can get the help you and your baby needs to move forward.


[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201212/is-postpartum-depression-different-regular-depression Is Postpartum Depression Different From “Regular” Depression. Kleiman, Karen.

[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/basics/symptoms/con-20029130 Postpartum Depression