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Can Post-Partum Depression Lead to Addiction?

Can Post-Partum Depression Lead to Addiction?

It is not uncommon for new mothers to abuse drugs like clonazepam or alcohol in an attempt to counteract the effects of post-partum depression.

After giving birth, women often experience low moods. Depending on the strength and duration of symptoms, the condition may be known either as the baby blues or as post-partum depression. In rare cases, childbirth may lead to post-partum psychosis in which serious mental health symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia appear.

Mood swings after giving birth may be due to many factors. The Mayo Clinic notes that physical, emotional and lifestyle factors may all be involved. Physical factors include a dramatic drop in hormones including estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones. Other physical changes, such as in blood pressure, blood volume, metabolism and the immune system, may also play a role. Additional factors that may contribute to the development of post-partum depression include sleep deprivation, anxiety about caring for a new baby, adjustment to a new sense of identity, loss of control over many aspects of life, financial strains and lack of support.

Symptoms of the baby blues include sadness, crying, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, trouble sleeping and decreased concentration. These may last from a few days to a week or two. It may be initially difficult to distinguish post-partum depression from the baby blues, but symptoms of post-partum depression are more intense and longer lasting. They may include loss of appetite, overwhelming fatigue, feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy, lack of joy, withdrawal from family and friends and difficulty bonding with the baby.

Possible Effects of Post-Partum Depression

If not treated, post-partum depression may last for months or even longer. The Mayo Clinic notes that post-partum depression can have a ripple effect causing strain for other family members. They note that when a new mother is depressed it may elevate the risk of depression in the baby’s father as well. If there is a lack of maternal bonding to the new baby or the post-partum depression is making it difficult to care for the child adequately, there may also be effects seen in the child.

Depression, including the post-partum variety, is often linked to substance abuse and addiction to drugs like clonazepam. The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that people who have been diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely as other people to also suffer from a drug use disorder. Because alcohol and psychoactive drugs activate the brain’s pleasure and reward system, it is not surprising that people often turn to them during periods of depression and stress. A 2013 blog post on the website of Perinatal Mood Disorder Awareness, Ltd. reports on a study finding that 15 percent of post-partum women between the ages of 15 and 44 reported binge alcohol use. Use of illicit or non-medical drugs was reported by 8.5% of respondent.

The medical website WebMD reports that nearly one-third of people who experience major depression also have an alcohol problem. Women are more than twice as likely to begin drinking heavily if they have a history of depression. Unfortunately, heavy alcohol use can worsen depression and make antidepressant medications less effective.

The Relationship Between Depression and Substance Abuse

The relationship between substance abuse to drugs like clonazepam and mental health disorders is often complex and non-linear. NIDA notes that individuals suffering symptoms of mental illness may abuse drugs or alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate but that the relationship may also act the other way with substances of abuse causing symptoms of mental health conditions. A further possibility is that factors such as genetic vulnerabilities or early exposure to trauma may underlie both the mental health and substance abuse issues.

A 2005 article published by La Leche League International reports on two studies of substance abuse and depression in mothers. One found that depression during pregnancy was predicted by substance abuse, life stress and difficulties with friends and family members. Another study compared substance abusing and non-substance abusing mothers at three and six months post-partum and found that the substance-abusing mothers demonstrated higher levels of depression and life stress and lower levels of social support.

The relationship between post-partum depression and other factors was also examined in a 2009 article in the Journal of Women’s Health. The article examined studies of the prevalence of post-partum depression among women who use substances, had experienced abuse or who experience chronic illness. No evidence was found to suggest an increased risk for post-partum depression in women with chronic illness. Women who had been abused, however, experienced higher rates as did those who were substance users.

Treating Addiction and Post-Partum Depression

When depression and addiction to drugs like clonazepam co-exist, integrated treatment, which addresses both conditions, ideally within the same treatment facility, leads to the best treatment outcomes. Post-partum depression may be treated with counseling, antidepressant medication and hormone therapy. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies may also be used to address addiction.

If you are looking for quality addiction treatment for drugs like clonazepam, we can help you find it. The caring and compassionate consultants who staff our toll-free helpline can answer your questions about treatment and help you find the option that is best for you. They can also check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, so there’s never a wrong time to call. Why not call now?