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What's the Difference Between Postpartum Depression and Regular Depression?

written by: Erin281982 • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 8/8/2010

Learning what's the difference between postpartum and regular depression and how one is able to differentiate between the two. A look at how the two can be similar yet are very different and should be treated as two unique conditions.

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    What's the Difference Between Postpartum and Regular Depression?

    A surprising number of women have made the mistake of confusing their postpartum depression for regular depression and not getting the proper treatment that is required. Many of them are surprised to learn that these are in fact two different conditions that should be treated individually. Many may find themselves wondering "What's the difference between postpartum depression and regular depression?" and may feel lost in how to discover the differences between the two. While it is true that postpartum depression and regular depression have similarities there are significant differences. Here is a look at the two conditions.

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    Postpartum Depression and Regular Depression: Spotting What Is Different

    Postpartum depression and regular depression do have similar qualities making them easy to mistake for each other. Some women may brush off their postpartum depression and mark it off as "regular depression" because they are only familiar with regular depression or have suffered with depression before. Both conditions may cause sleep conditions, constant feelings of anger, sadness or guilt, a loss of interest in things they once loved as well as a feeling of hopelessness. However, as similar as they are, they are also different.

    Regular depression can hit at any point in time with no real reason. Many women may feel frustrated with being depressed particularly if they feel they do not have a good reason for feeling that way. Regular depression may affect men, women and children of all ages, races and in all circumstances.

    Postpartum depression differs from regular depression in the fact that it usually develops in women as soon as a few weeks after they have given birth or up to a year later. It is important to note there is a huge difference in a new mom who is suffering from a bout of the "baby blues" as they are called and postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can also occur as late as a year after a new mom has given birth which can greatly confuse the mom into mistaking it for regular depression.

    Many mothers who develop postpartum depression go on to say that they feel exhausted, yet are unable to sleep or have irregular sleep cycles. Contributing factors to these irregular sleep cycles may include problems with feeding the baby, the baby going through odd stages of teething or having colic. Moms with postpartum depression may also feel very sad and indifferent towards their baby, spouse, family and friends often leading them to feeling very guilty about their condition and not being able to understand what is happening to them.

    Just as with regular depression, postpartum depression can and does happen to women of all ages, races and circumstances who have given birth within a year. There is no rhyme or reason and while there may be some factors that help to contribute to it such as a lack of support, a difficult birth or just a hard time adjusting to motherhood itself, no one knows why it affects some women the way it does.

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    The Importance of Correct Diagnosis

    It is estimated that one in ten women will find themselves suffering from postpartum depression. It is strongly advised that women who have just recently given birth in the past year that are feeling any of these symptoms bring them up with their doctors or midwives. Only they can determine and diagnose postpartum depression to help new moms get back on their feet.

    It is important to get the correct diagnosis between postpartum depression and regular depression so the new mom is able to get the proper treatment she needs to get better. Doctors do use similar methods to treat postpartum depression and regular depression but considering they are two different conditions, with different causes and triggers, doctors may use specific methods for postpartum depression. This is particularly important for moms who are breastfeeding and cannot take certain anti-depressants. In these cases they may treat the postpartum depression with counseling, a different diet or even anti-depressants that are safe to take while breastfeeding.

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