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Can Postpartum Depression Lead to Alcohol or Drug Abuse?

A woman trying to take care of and connect with her newborn while suffering from postpartum depression.
Postpartum depression can cause a new mother to turn to alcohol or drugs to try to cope.

When you have a baby, your entire life changes. And while you were nervous and wondered if you’d be a good mom, you counted down the days to when you’d finally meet your baby and hold them in your arms.

You expected there to be a transition period with a newborn. You were told you’d get significantly less sleep and it would take time to lose the baby weight. But what you didn’t expect was the mood swings, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness that you can’t seem to shake.

You’re supposed to be incredibly happy and in love with your baby, but you find it difficult to even get out of bed most days. You can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with you. The short answer is, nothing because it isn’t your fault. What you’re struggling with is postpartum depression.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Getting “baby blues” after giving birth to your child is completely normal. After all, you carried your baby inside you for 40 weeks. It’s completely understandable that you’d feel a little empty and have hormonal changes now that you’re no longer pregnant.

The problem is when those types of feelings last longer than a few days and don’t seem to be going away. Postpartum depression is a mental health condition caused by a sudden drop in hormone levels after childbirth that triggers debilitating feelings of depression, emptiness and anxiety.

Effects of Postpartum Depression

In the United States, it’s estimated that 10-20 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression after their pregnancy. This means that an estimated 600,000 women get diagnosed with postpartum depression. Sadly, this number may actually be even larger because the current estimate doesn’t take into account women who miscarry, have stillbirths or never get diagnosed.

Since it’s not always easy to figure out what you’re dealing with and why, it’s important to be aware of the most common postpartum depression symptoms:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Depression
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Feeling hopeless and worthless
  • Loss of appetite
  • Having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • A complete lack of energy or motivation to do anything
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • An inability or unwillingness to bond with your child

Postpartum depression can make you feel like you’re failing as a mother and have you question your self-worth and purpose in life. And in extreme cases, postpartum depression can even make you think about harming yourself or your baby.

Since postpartum depression can be difficult to identify, it’s important to recognize the symptoms so that you can reach out to your doctor, spouse or another family member for help and support.

Unfortunately, many women struggle with asking for help. They may not recognize their symptoms or feel like they’re seeking attention when they should be focused on caring for their newborn baby. Instead of talking to their doctor and seeking treatment, these women turn to alcohol or drug abuse to help them cope with symptoms and make it through the day.

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Postpartum Depression and Addiction

Women who have given birth and are struggling with postpartum depression are significantly more likely to suffer from a substance abuse disorder than women who have not had a child or don’t suffer from postpartum depression.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it’s estimated that 15 percent of women who had a baby in the last 12 months and have postpartum depression suffer from binge drinking. And looking even deeper into the statistics, nine percent of this specific group of women reported abusing drugs to cope with their symptoms.

Unfortunately, alcohol and drugs offer a quick fix to many of the symptoms women face when struggling with postpartum depression. Alcohol can cause a rush of dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain that help relieve depression and make you feel good. Other drugs like opioids work in a similar way, triggering euphoria and easing anxiety.

While these substances certainly can take the edge off, it’s extremely easy to become reliant on them without realizing. Soon, many women find themselves struggling with a dual diagnosis disorder and no closer to fixing their postpartum depression.

Fortunately, addiction treatment centers like The Raleigh House can help. The Raleigh House has over 10 years of experience helping women recover from dual diagnosis disorders like postpartum depression and alcohol abuse or postpartum depression and drug abuse.

Recover from Postpartum Depression and Addiction at The Raleigh House

Are you exhibiting signs of postpartum depression and substance abuse? If so, it’s imperative that you seek treatment. Not only are you responsible for taking care of yourself, you also have a child to think of. And your child, without a shadow of a doubt, loves you and needs you in their life.

It may be scary facing your postpartum depression and addiction, but we’re here to guide you every step of the way and provide caring, judgement-free dual diagnosis disorder treatment that’s effective at helping women like you recover. All it takes is for you to reach out for help.

To get started, fill out our form or contact us now to get in touch with one of our friendly admissions team members.

Call Now: 720-891-4657

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