Recovery Center Blog

Alcohol Abuse and Post-Partum Depression (PPD)

Written By Recovery Centers - June 9th, 2022
Alcohol Abuse and Post-Partum Depression (PPD)

Having a baby changes your life. Parenting a newborn baby requires time, energy, patience, and a lot of work. After your baby is born, you may experience joy, anxiety, and a range of other emotions that fluctuate from day to day. It is normal to have mixed-up feelings after having a baby.

But some people develop a severe form of depression called Post-Partum Depression (PPD). Post-partum depression is a medical condition that requires treatment. Without treatment, people who develop PPD are at risk of harming themself, neglecting their babies, and other serious consequences. Developing post-partum depression may also put someone at greater risk of developing alcohol addiction.

While post-partum depression can be severe and unexpected, it usually responds well to treatment. People can recover from post-partum depression if they get timely, comprehensive treatment, including talk therapy and medications. People living with post-partum depression and alcoholism must receive comprehensive treatment for both conditions to recover and live a healthy, sober lifestyle.

If you or someone you love require treatment for post-partum depression and alcoholism, reach out to the specialists at Recovery Centers today.

Understanding Post-Partum Depression (PPD)

After giving birth, your body is flooded with fluctuating hormones. Meeting the demands of a newborn can cause constant stress, reduce the quality of sleep, and strain relationships. These changes and stressors often lead to heightened emotions. Many think of the first few months of their baby’s life as an emotional rollercoaster.

Many people have a period of “baby blues” after giving birth. During this time, you may cry more often or feel sad from time to time. Usually, this passes in a week or two.

Post-partum depression is different than having the “baby blues”. Post-partum depression is a serious form of depression that can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life. Some of the symptoms of PPD include:[1,2]

  • Feeling sad, isolated, or depressed most of the time
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Body aches or pain
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Being unable to care for yourself or your baby
  • Thoughts of dying
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Excessive worry about your baby
  • Loss of interest in caring for your baby
  • Difficulty making decisions

Certain risk factors make it more likely for a person to develop post-partum depression. These include:[2]

  • Being younger than 25 years old
  • History of depression
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Alcohol use
  • If the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
  • Trauma during childbirth
  • Poverty
  • Lack of a partner or other support

While these risk factors can make it more likely for a person to develop PPD, anyone can develop this serious, sometimes life-threatening condition.

How Are Post-Partum Depression and Alcoholism Connected?

When stress levels overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, some people may attempt to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Self-medicating means using substances to dull the pain of stress, anxiety, depression, or other unpleasant emotions. Many people use alcohol to self-medicate. People who abuse alcohol heavily or for a prolonged period are at increased risk of developing alcoholism.

Using alcohol can actually worsen the symptoms of depression. Alcohol abuse can prevent you from taking care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting support. It can also keep people from taking care of their babies and result in neglect.

In some cases, alcohol can pass from a mother to her baby through her breastmilk.[3] This can prevent babies from thriving and may cause significant sleep disruptions.

Using alcohol may temporarily mask the symptoms of post-partum depression, but it can lead to significant, long-lasting negative consequences, including developing alcoholism. Many people require addiction treatment to recover from alcoholism.

How Common is Post-Partum Depression and Alcoholism?

Alcohol is common in our culture and widely available to adults in various situations. Research conducted in 2017 showed that among pregnant people, about 11.5% had used alcohol in the previous 30 days, and 3.9% had engaged in binge drinking.[4]

Studies estimate that about 10-15% of people develop post-partum depression after giving birth.[5] While using alcohol to dull the emotional pain of depression can be temporarily effective, it can quickly spiral into a serious substance use disorder or addiction.

Treatment for Post-Partum Depression and Alcohol Abuse

If you live with post-partum depression and alcoholism, you need to receive comprehensive treatment for both conditions. Alcohol rehab is offered in various settings and several levels of care. Treatment plans generally include:

  • An evaluation
  • Medically-supervised detox
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medications
  • Mental health care
  • Education
  • Holistic therapies

Treatment for postpartum depression and alcoholism may include specialized therapy techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), used to treat depression and substance use simultaneously.

Find an Alcohol Rehab Near You

If you or someone you love lives with post-partum depression and alcohol abuse, reach out to the specialists at Recovery Centers to be connected to the treatment programs you need.