What causes postpartum depression?

There was no diagnosis for postpartum depression (PPD) until the late 1980s, but its symptoms have long impacted new mothers. The condition is often difficult to diagnose, and many women never get the help they need. No one exactly what causes it but hormones are thought to be the main culprit. A prior history of depression and genetics play a role, as well as experiencing big life changes. Some researchers believe postpartum depression may be responsible for the high rate of substance abuse among women in the months following the birth of their babies.

How many women have postpartum depression?

One survey shows 70 to 80 percent of new mothers in the United States suffer from the “baby blues.” Of those, doctors will diagnose 10 to 20 percent with clinical postpartum depression. Other data suggest that number may be as high as 1 in 7, approximately 600,000 cases every year, and the statistics don’t include stillbirths or miscarriages.

While women of all ages and ethnicities have similar risks of PPD, those with a history of mental illness, history of traumatic events or lack of support are also vulnerable to substance abuse.  If you or someone you know may be dealing with substance abuse linked to postpartum depression and looking for treatment, there are options across the U.S. to help with recovery. If you’re trying to find a rehab start by researching facilities nearby or in an area you’d like to be such as coastal drug treatment centers in Florida.

What are the symptoms of postpartum depression?

New mothers may not distinguish between the symptoms of postpartum depression and the sleep-deprived months following the birth of a new baby. The symptoms for PPD are much like those for clinical depression, but they begin after delivery and often include the following:

  • “Baby blues” that last longer than two weeks
  • Lack of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Fear of not being a good mother
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Sleep changes not related to the baby
  • Thoughts of self-harm

How is PPD related to substance abuse?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says almost 15 percent of women who had PPD experienced binge drinking in the first year, and 9 percent used other substances, a rate higher than new mothers who were not depressed.

When medical professionals diagnose two disorders, such as PPD and substance abuse, they call it a dual diagnosis. Every dual diagnosis is different, and each requires a special treatment plan. Drug treatment centers have the resources and protocol necessary for both conditions and provide patient support.

How do recovery centers treat PPD and substance use disorder?

A diagnosis of postpartum depression or substance use disorder is difficult to overcome alone, and a combination of both makes recovery even harder.  There is a risk of danger to the mother and child, and cravings and stress create a scenario that makes it difficult not to relapse in the best of circumstances.

Although being separated from family is never easy, a brief stay in a treatment facility can give the mother a much-needed rest and the support she needs to heal and return to her family. Health care providers and therapists will follow a regimen of medical treatment, counseling, and peer support to treat all aspects of coexisting conditions. They will also prepare mothers with the skills to start a drug-free life. 

If you or someone you love needs help with one of these conditions, resources are available. You can talk to an addiction specialist near you or visit the SAMSHA website for more information.

Read More:
Mood Swings and Emotional Changes During Pregnancy
Postpartum Depression Quiz
Pregnancy Depression

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