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Why the Link Between Postpartum Depression and Addiction May Be Overlooked

Postpartum depression (PPD) can occur for some women following the birth of a child or children. Mothers who are in the first year after birth are most susceptible to the emotional and hormonal shifts they experience. There is an increased risk of addiction for mothers who experience postpartum depression but they are not always noticeable right away. Find out why there is a link between and addiction and how to offer support for a mother who is struggling.

How it Starts

A subtype of depression, PPD can impact women immediately after birth or several months postpartum. The type of depression affects new mothers specifically but depression can happen to anyone who has given birth, adopted, or taken in a child (especially newborns or young children). The symptoms of the condition align closely with major depression but typically include anxiety, hormonal changes, little sleep, not eating enough or not healthy foods and not getting enough support from a spouse or partner. Common signs may include:

  • Frequent crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Worrying constantly
  • Physical lethargy
  • Difficulty bonding with baby
  • Avoiding contact with loved ones, including family
  • Thoughts of self-harm or harming the baby

PPD and Addiction

New motherhood issues can pop up for anyone. Babies require round-the-clock care. If a newborn has any issues or was in NICU, then they require special needs to be met. Lack of sleep, anxiety, and other worries take a toll on a woman’s mind and body over time. Mom may not connect to the child, feel distant from their spouse or partner, and feel pressure to return to work, clean house, keep up with baby, and meet the demands of motherhood straight on. Mental health issues can arise along with addiction. Binge drinking is higher for women who experience PPD as a way to cope with symptoms. Alcohol and drug use affects a few babies because it can pass from mother to child. If a mother goes into childbirth having used alcohol while pregnant, it may affect the baby’s development. Women who breastfeed are not supposed to drink or drink after breastfeeding in moderation.

Parenting Culture and Treatment

There is some shame and stigma around moms who deal with PPD and addiction. They may be seen as not capable of caring for their children or risk having them taken away due to their issues. Mothers who experience parenting culture around ‘wine-o-clock’ hour after the baby goes to bed may begin to feel emboldened to drink a glass of wine or beer. They may take drugs to help them stay awake or cope with the challenges of motherhood. Drinking can be normalized to a degree but also shamed on the other hand. This may impact a woman’s ability to reach out for treatment if people don’t realize how serious her issues are. Treatment should be offered for any woman struggling with PPD and addiction so she can get help and be the mother she desires to be.

Motherhood is challenging. Women are not immune to the difficulties of mental health issues and addiction. Find a way to get the treatment that is holistic and trauma-informed to care for the whole woman and support recovery. Call us to find out how to get started: 1-855-483-7800