Can Postpartum Depression Lead to Addiction?

Postpartum depression can cause some mothers to resort to drugs and alcohol as a form of self-medication. This can lead on substance abuse, which may later on develop into addiction.

Motherhood, especially for first-time moms, can be filled with so many unexpected challenges. Even for those who have had multiple births can find that each baby also brings different challenges, as not all babies and situations are the same.
postpartum depression addiction

New moms will experience exhaustion and sleep deprivation, even fear and anxiety, especially in the few days after childbirth. This is usually called the baby blues, but will eventually wear off. However, there are those who experience the blues far longer, and this can be because it’s actually postpartum depression.

What is postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression is clinically recognize as a subtype of depression and this term is applied to women who are affected with depression symptoms after giving birth. Postpartum depression can begin anywhere between two weeks up to a year or more after childbirth. This is more common in first time mothers.

The symptoms of postpartum depression are similar to depression and are believed to be due to existing predisposition to depression, on top of navigating the new challenges motherhood brings. Other causes include anxiety, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, nutritional deficiencies, and lack of support from spouse and family.

When a mother has postpartum depression, it’s harder for her to cope with everyday life, manage everyday activities, as well as take care of her new born baby.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

Baby blues are normal in most mothers, especially first-time moms. However, when these blues don’t go away after a few weeks, then this could be postpartum depression. To find out for sure, you may watch out for these red flags or symptoms:

  • avoiding friends and family
  • experiencing trouble bonding with the baby
  • doubting the inability to take care of the baby
  • thoughts about harming the baby or herself
  • severe mood swings
  • anxiety
  • constant worry for no specific reason
  • feeling of dread
  • physical aches and pains
  • crying more than usual or bursting into tears suddenly
  • feeling sad
  • feeling empty
  • becoming overwhelmed

Postpartum depression can disrupt what should have been a loving and natural bond between mother and child. Mothers may also experience hallucinations and delusions.

Postpartum Depression’s Link with Addiction

Having babies can be highly demanding–physically, mentally, and emotionally. Babies require constant care and attention, and all these can take a toll on a woman.She may be unable to take care of the baby as well as herself properly. As a result, she may resort to substances to self-medicate so she can cope.

Many mothers resort to binge-drinking within a year of giving birth. They may also abuse drugs to cope with motherhood. As they do this more frequently, they may eventually crave for it to function normally or escape from the demands of motherhood and their feelings. Eventually, they may develop addiction.

If a mother who uses substances to self-medicate is breastfeeding, the substances can have a negative effect on the baby. The substances, like alcohol and narcotics, may transfer to the baby through the milk. For example:

  • Amphetamines may cause irritability and sleep trouble for the baby
  • Cocaine may cause seizures, diarrhea and vomiting
  • Heroin may cause tremors, restlessness, vomiting and trouble feeding

And even if mothers don’t breastfeed, their intoxicated conditions may cause danger to their babies.


If you know of a mother or a soon-to-be-mom who you suspect has a substance use problem, let them know of the dangers this poses for them and their baby. Let them seek help by calling us: 09175098826.

 

 

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