Post-partum Depression and Substance Abuse

Post-partum depression and addictionPost-partum depression is more than the baby blues. Post-partum depression is estimated to affect 40% of all new mothers in the US. Some of those cases of post-partum depression are so serious that they require immediate care.

But what causes post-partum depression? There are several factors that contribute to this disabling depression:

  • Anxiety over being a new mother
  • Changes in hormones and brain chemicals
  • Body changes and lifestyle changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of support from loved ones
  • Genetic predisposition toward depression or anxiety
  • Nutritional imbalances

One factor that can seriously complicate post-partum depression is substance abuse. Perhaps the new mother had struggled with drugs or alcohol previously, or perhaps the stress and depression of new life changes prompted the substance use.

The following women all experienced substance abuse and post-partum depression:

When Jane’s daughter was born by Cesarean section, Jane was excited to welcome her healthy new baby to the world. She never anticipated that she might suffer from post-partum depression. Jane had a supportive husband and a new home. There was nothing in Jane’s life that could logically cause depression. Yet Jane became very depressed when her daughter was only a few days old. She felt ashamed about her depression and tried to hide her feelings. Her C-section was healing, but Jane felt considerable pain in her lower stomach. She looked in her medicine cabinet and began to take pain pills. Jane soon found herself unable to stop taking the pills. One day, she fell asleep and woke up hours later to find that she had left the baby unattended and in need of a diaper change. Jane knew it was time to seek help.

For years, Melissa had struggled with a heroin addiction. When she found out she was pregnant, she worked very hard and stopped using heroin. She delivered a healthy baby boy, but soon she began to feel anxious and helpless. As her feelings grew darker, she began using heroin again. Melissa began to consider putting her son up for adoption. She felt sure she could not raise a child in her condition so she reached out for help.

Alice was the model mother. She had a newborn set of twins, a three-year-old and an executive husband. What Alice did not want to tell anyone was that she was terrified of being a mother and had been struggling with serious depression. She had been drinking to mask her feelings and soon she was unable to make it to lunchtime without a drink or three to “help her get by.” Alice’s husband found out about Alice’s drinking and he became very concerned. He urged Alice to get help to live a happier life.

All three of these women struggled with similar issues. One mother became addicted to pain medication, another had an addiction to heroin and the last had a hidden alcoholism problem. Because all three of these women suffered from what is called a dual diagnosis, they required specialized treatment.

A dual diagnosis occurs when a person suffers from an emotional and mental illness plus a substance abuse problem. Dual diagnosis treatment is different because it is not only more effective, it also targets two problems at once.

All three of these women sought treatment and soon found the proper treatment necessary to feel better. You can too.

Help for Post-Partum Depression and Substance Abuse

Being a new mom can be overwhelming. If you or someone you know is struggling with post-partum depression and drug use or post-partum depression and alcoholism, there is hope.

We offer a 24-hour free helpline to offer you guidance in your time of need. We can help you learn more about post-partum depression, and treatment including everything from interventions to family counseling. We can also help explain what makes dual diagnosis treatment different.

There is a way out. There is a better life for you and your baby. Call us now.