Postpartum Depression and Substance Abuse

Postpartum Depression and Substance Abuse

Posted July 1, 2017 by Christian Smith

Bringing an addition into your family is a wonderful and beautiful time. You’ve slowly fallen in love with this being growing inside of you for over nine months, and when it’s finally time to introduce them into the world, you’re ecstatic. The first few days to weeks after having your baby will be some of the most wonderful and amazing days of your life. Despite the sleepless nights and poopy diapers, you’re so happy. When you first become a mother, it’s hard to think that you could ever be upset and even though you know postpartum depression exists, you think that there’s no way you could ever experience it. It’s the farthest thing from your mind. Because of this, if you do find yourself experiencing postpartum depression, you may be caught off guard, unsure of what to do.

Talk to your doctor

It’s important to let your doctor know when you’re feeling sad, depressed, or anxious, especially when it concerns your newborn baby. Postpartum depression usually sets in within 2-6 weeks. Even if you have been clean the entire pregnancy, these feelings of sadness and desperation may make you more susceptible to relapse.

Studies done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) show that 15% of women with postpartum depression begin binge drinking within a year of the birth of their child. 9% of women report abusing other drugs and substances within this same time frame postpartum. These numbers just get higher if you’ve previously had a substance abuse problem. When you’re struggling, you’re more likely to fall back on bad habits and destructive coping mechanisms because they seem easier than seeking help. It’s important to remember that, in the long run, it’s so much more destructive to let yourself relapse than ask for help, no matter how embarrassing.


Postpartum depression is treated the same as clinical or chronic depression. This is because postpartum depression is actually formally diagnosed as a subtype of major depression. Not to be confused with the “baby blues”, postpartum depression is a chronic problem, sometimes leaning towards bipolar tendencies including alternating between depressive and manic episodes.

If you’ve had a baby within the past year, and you’re having problems concentrating, excessive weight gain or weight loss, constant feelings of guilt or worthlessness, inability to trust anyone(including your partner) to hold or care for you child, or thoughts of harming yourself or your baby, you should consult with your doctor immediately.

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