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Information About Postpartum Depression and Addiction

Postpartum Depression and Addiction

Postpartum depression is a very serious condition that can last for months. With so many women not receiving proper treatment, it's not surprising that many of them turn to substances. For them, using drugs or alcohol is viewed as a way to cope with the struggles they're facing. Perhaps you're suffering from postpartum depression, and you also have an addiction. You know that using drugs or alcohol isn't the right thing to do. However, it feels as though you have no other options available to you. At Northpoint Washington, we want you to know that we have an option you might not have thought of.

Postpartum Depression Information

Addiction and postpartum depression affect many new moms all over the United States. For many of these women, they feel hopeless, day in and day out. They may assume that they will feel better in time. When they don't, choosing to use drugs or alcohol may seem like their only option.

Postpartum depression can deal quite a devastating blow to a new mother. It is a condition that can occur out of nowhere. There don't have to be any early signs of it during the pregnancy. Once it strikes, it causes a host of symptoms that make it hard for the new mother to function.

According to Postpartum Progress:

  • The CDC states that as many as 20% of women who give birth each year have postpartum depression.
  • According to that calculation, that works out to be about 600,000 women each year.
  • These statistics fail to account for stillbirths or miscarriages. That means the number is probably much closer to 900,000 each year.
  • High poverty rates in some areas can raise that statistic to 25% of women each year.
  • Only 15% of these women receive the treatment they need for postpartum depression.
  • As many as 850,000 women are not getting professional help for this condition.
  • Postpartum depression has been shown to have a drastic effect on children and their development.

Integrative addiction treatment has been shown to be very helpful for women in your situation. This type of treatment can give you the support and tools that you need to recover. However, it's best to begin by understanding postpartum depression in greater detail.

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a type of depression that strikes many women after giving birth. It can also occur after miscarriages and stillbirths, and live birth is not a prerequisite. It is characterized by feelings of intense and unexplained sadness that don't go away.

Postpartum depression can begin very soon after giving birth. However, it's not uncommon for symptoms to begin as long as 12 months afterwards. When symptoms persist, and they don't go away after a few weeks, postpartum depression is usually diagnosed.

This condition is very hard on a new mother. She is trying her best to take care of her baby, but her energy and motivation may be completely gone. When you add this to the exhaustion that new mothers experience, it's easy to see why substances might seem desirable.

Types of Postpartum Depression Explained

There are actually three different types of postpartum depression. They include:

The Baby Blues

The baby blues are a short-term version of postpartum depression. This condition is something that affects up to 80% of all mothers after birth. The baby blues can begin between three and ten days after childbirth. However, they usually begin to go away within just a few weeks.

New mothers who have the baby blues might experience bouts of crying, sadness and mild anxiety. However, they are fortunate in that this condition does not last long at all.

Postpartum Major Depression

Postpartum major depression begins to develop about three weeks or so after delivery in most cases. However, it can take up to a year for a woman to show symptoms of it. When a woman has this type of postpartum depression, the symptoms last much longer. They are also much stronger.

There are emotional and physical symptoms that can go along with postpartum major depression. The woman may have problems with concentration, cold sensitivity, fluid retention and even suicidal thoughts.

Postpartum Psychosis

According to VeryWell, as many as two women out of 1,000 will develop postpartum psychosis. This is often called postpartum psychotic depression. It can be accompanied by severe mood shifts, intrusive thoughts and hallucinations. The mother usually feels completely disinterested in her child.

Postpartum psychosis is the most severe type of postpartum depression. It may seem as though a sufferer is coming out of it during periods of lucidity. However, it's very common for symptoms to reappear.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Postpartum Depression in Yourself

If you're a new mother, you may be wondering if you have symptoms of postpartum depression. It helps to know what those symptoms are. That way, you can decide if you think you need professional help.

The symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Frequently feeling sad or hopeless
  • Not having much of an appetite
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Not feeling capable of being a good mother
  • Feeling anxious about the baby's safety
  • Feeling as though you're not bonding with the baby
  • Not able to enjoy being with the baby
  • Lack of interest in formerly enjoyed activities
  • Low energy levels
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Problems taking care of the baby
  • Lack of care for yourself
  • Morbid thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Anxiety about being alone with the baby

Some new mothers will even have thoughts of harming their babies. Fortunately, they usually don't act on these thoughts. However, if they are present, they are a clear indicator that professional help is needed. Unfortunately, instead of getting professional help, many women will turn to drugs or alcohol.

Treating Postpartum Depression Professionally

The most common ways to treat postpartum depression are through medication and psychotherapy. One or the other can be used, but most practitioners believe it's best to use both together. If the new mother is suffering from postpartum psychosis, hospitalization may be recommended.

Psychotherapy can help to address the feelings the new mother is experiencing. There are a number of different types of psychotherapy that are often used. These methods can provide the support that's necessary for the new mother.

Group therapy has also been shown to be very effective for postpartum depression. It's helpful for the new mother to realize that she's not the only one having these feelings. It may be a difficult experience, but by listening to others talk, she will feel validated. Tremendous healing can come from group therapy sessions.

What are the Medications for Postpartum Depression?

A number of different medications are used to help with postpartum depression symptoms. Even so, doctors need to be aware of whether or not the new mother is breastfeeding. This will have an effect on the medication that is chosen for her. Antidepressants are very helpful for this condition. Usually, Prozac and Zoloft are among the safest choices.

Still, every woman is different. What might be right for one woman, might not be right for another. Additional medications doctors may consider using include:

  • Celexa
  • Effexor XR
  • Paxil or Paxil CR
  • Citalopram
  • Fluoxetine
  • Paroxetine

Helping patients with any type of depression is challenging. In many ways, postpartum depression can be even more challenging. It's not uncommon for doctors to need to take time to try out a few different medications. Many of them take a few weeks before they begin to work.

In the meantime, women with postpartum depression should actively participate in therapy sessions. These sessions will help to give them the support and encouragement they need.

Why are Addiction and Postpartum Depression Often Linked?

So many women are diagnosed with postpartum depression every year. Yet, most of them fail to get treatment. This is probably because they assume that they are only suffering from the baby blues. They believe that they'll get better. When they don't get better right away, it can be difficult for them to motivate themselves to get help.

Instead, many women in this situation will turn to drugs and alcohol. For women with postpartum depression, their hormones are linked to this condition. Severe fluctuations in hormone levels most likely play a major role in postpartum depression. This leads to significant decreases of serotonin and dopamine in the body. Alcohol and many types of drugs tend to raise the levels of these “feel good” chemicals. Over time, the brain doesn't need to make them at all anymore. The drugs or alcohol eventually take over the job.

In light of this information, it's easy to see why women believe they need drugs or alcohol to feel normal. They probably didn't start to experience relief from their symptoms until they started using.

This relief is short-lived. Continuing to use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate postpartum depression is very dangerous. Eventually, they stop working to relieve symptoms, and can even make them worse as time goes on. Women may compensate for this by increasing how much or how often they use. As you can see, this creates a terrible addiction cycle that is very difficult to break.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Addiction and Postpartum Depression

Getting the right kind of drug and alcohol treatment is the best way to treat addiction and postpartum depression. When these conditions occur together, they are known as co-occurring disorders. Co-occurring disorders should always be treated at the same time. Drug and alcohol rehab facilities that provide this are known as integrative addiction treatment centers.

At one time, it was normal to treat co-occurring disorders separately. There weren't any facilities that were equipped to treat them together. What this meant for the patient was that she went through a drug or alcohol detox program first. After that, she was treated with psychotherapy for the mental health condition she suffered from.

In time, it was discovered that this form of treatment caused a lot of problems for people. Relapse rates were increasing. This was because the reasons behind the addiction were never really dealt with. Integrative addiction treatment sought to change that.

Today, more and more drug and alcohol treatment centers are offering dual diagnosis treatment. They recognize a need to treat the source of the addiction, as well as the addiction itself. Treatment teams work together on their patient's behalf to form a plan that will address all the patient's needs.

Addiction treatment programs that utilize this method have seen incredible success. Relapse rates are down and long-term recovery rates are higher than they ever have been before. For women with postpartum depression and addiction, this is excellent news. These are women who thought they had no other alternatives available to them. Their postpartum depression felt like a life sentence that couldn't be treated unless they used. Fortunately, they're finding out that this is not the case at all.

Do You Have The Co-Occurring Disorders of Addiction and Postpartum Depression? Get the Help You Need

If you're a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression and addiction, you don't need to continue on this path. What you're going through is very normal. So many women face this problem every single year. However, you need to know that getting the right kind of treatment can help you to recover.

Perhaps as you've gone through the above information, you recognize many of the symptoms. You know that you have gone through some significant changes since giving birth. You just didn't know what to do about it, or how to help yourself. Dual diagnosis treatment is the solution you've been searching for.

At Northpoint Washington, it's not enough for us to only help with your addiction. We seek to get to the root cause of your substance abuse issues. That way, we can help you experience the recovery you're looking for.

Would you like to learn more about postpartum depression and addiction? Are you ready to begin your healing journey right away? Please contact us.