Can Postpartum Depression Lead to Addiction?

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Can Postpartum Depression Lead to Addiction?

Ignoring post-partum depression may lead to addiction and trigger consequences for both mother and baby

Since the medical community recognized depression as a serious disease, they have provided considerable understanding and help for people who suffer from depressive conditions. In the past, stigmas and misconceptions usually made it difficult for a sufferer to receive medical care and therapy, so such conditions would remain hidden and thereby cause other negative health conditions such as addiction.

Postpartum Depression and Addiction

Soon after their babies are born, some mothers experience what is commonly known as “the baby blues.” This condition is both normal and common, and it usually lasts less than a week with symptoms that can be likened to those of depression. However, it is important to note that this condition is not postpartum depression, and it is rarely, if ever, dangerous.

However, postpartum depression may appear sometime in the first year after a baby is born and it may cause severe, lasting symptoms. Although the causes for this affliction are not yet known, MedlinePlus states that hormonal and physical changes, on top of caring for a new baby and the stress involved, are probable causes.

The following symptoms could indicate postpartum depression:

  • Feeling hopeless
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Crying uncontrollably
  • Thoughts of hurting either oneself or the baby
  • Having no interest in the baby
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Feelings of worthlessness as a mother

As said before, these feelings are different from the baby blues in that they are severe and may make it difficult for the mother to go through the day or to provide adequate care. The American Psychological Association (APA) states that 1 of every 7 mothers will experiment postpartum depression, and that this condition will be the first time that around half the women experience depression. The APA recommends seeking help as soon as some of the symptoms form, which might be even during pregnancy.

Understanding this information shows why a link between postpartum depression and addiction may form. Recent studies have demonstrated how depression and addiction are closely connected: one example is a 2014 paper in the US National Library of Medicine that explains how even antidepressants play a role in the alarming numbers of abuse and deaths related to prescription medications. The paper indicates that, even though most patients who use prescription antidepressants do not abuse the medications, some of these drugs are habit-forming and can cause addiction and overdoses, among other consequences. But antidepressants are not a huge concern for postpartum addiction, as opioid painkillers, which are often prescribed after painful deliveries or c-sections, also lead to overwhelming addiction statistics.

Postpartum depression can lead to addiction due to different reasons. For instance, a mother with an undiagnosed condition may rely on sleep aids to sleep or relax. This habit could lead not only to dependence and addiction, but also to overdose.

A mother with a history of substance abuse could also develop postpartum depression. If the mother is a recovering alcoholic, then her new symptoms of depression could be so severe that cravings overwhelm her to the point of relapse. This act could happen even if depression has been diagnosed and is being treated.

Treatment for PPD and Addiction Help for Mothers

First of all, postpartum depression requires professional assistance either from a professional therapist, physician, treatment center or other health professional. Treatment is of utmost importance, since leaving this condition untreated could have severe repercussions both on the mother and the baby.

If you are a mother going through this situation, remember that this problem is a medical condition and these feelings can happen naturally. In other words, do not believe your problem is a personality issue or one that you must address alone. Learn more about postpartum depression to be open about your symptoms and to accept help.

Some mothers who struggle with drug abuse are concerned about leaving their child to go to rehab. In this case, remember that addiction help for mothers is usually flexible, and that the treatment aims to create a better future for both child and mom.

Finally, family members are just as concerned about what to do and how to help women overcome this issue. One option that has helped many families in this position is family counseling. With the help of an experienced therapist, the whole family can learn more about depression, addiction and how to be a part of the recovery. This setting is an excellent venue to address emotional and psychological issues that may rise from the postpartum depression.

Give us a call if you would like confidential assistance from one of our admissions coordinators with addiction, mental health or recovery. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, and the information our staff has is free of charge. You can ask where to find family counseling, intervention services and more. Call now to begin developing a plan to recover from addiction and postpartum depression.