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Alcohol-use and depression among pregnant and postpartum women

  • Alcohol-use disorders and depression commonly coexist.
  • A new study examines co-occurring alcohol-use and depression symptoms among pregnant and postpartum women.
  • Women who experience depressive symptoms, binge drink, or smoke at any point during their pregnancy may be at risk for depression and alcohol use during their first postpartum year.

Alcohol-use disorders and depression commonly coexist, presenting unique challenges for both individuals who suffer from this "comorbidity" as well as their treatment providers. A study in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines co-occurring alcohol-use and depression symptoms among pregnant and postpartum women. The findings indicate that women who experience depression, binge drink, or smoke at any point during their pregnancy may be at risk for depression and alcohol use during their first postpartum year.

"Individuals suffering from depression may experience changes in eating or sleeping habits, a loss of interest in activities, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, low self-esteem, and in some cases, thoughts of harming themselves," explained Gregory G. Homish, research associate at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo - SUNY and first author of the study. "Individuals with an alcohol-use disorder tend to drink more alcohol than intended, may unsuccessfully try to reduce the amount they consume, may change their involvement in social, work or other activities, and may continue to use alcohol despite awareness that it is harmful or causing problems in their lives. Individuals with coexisting conditions often are more difficult to treat and have a poorer prognosis."

"I don't think that the general public is aware of how common the coexistence of alcohol-use disorders and depression is," said Rina Das Eiden, a senior scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University
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