Dual diagnosis and pregnancy – how it impacts child’s health

Dual diagnosis and pregnancy – how it impacts child’s health

Pregnancy is a critical stage in a woman’s life. It is not only about bringing a new life, but also about ensuring a good health and surrounding to the newborn. A pregnant woman, therefore, is always asked to take special care of herself, as the unborn is exposed to outer world through her.

In this context, it is important to consider the cases of women who are addicted to any substance or are suffering from a mental illness. The situation becomes even more critical if the prospective mother is suffering from both the conditions concurrently, commonly known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. It can seriously impact the unborn child’s health.

Though both addiction and mental illness are treatable conditions, normally the treatment is long-term and time consuming. The level of difficulty in treatment increases in case of co-occurrence of both the conditions. Although many believe that addiction and mental illness occur separately in people, there are various studies that prove their co-occurrence. However, which condition leads to the other is similar to a chicken and egg situation.

Pregnancy with dual diagnosis

As per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, nearly 30 to 40 percent women with alcohol use disorder also suffer from major depressive disorder. Further, studies have found that the co-existence of the conditions can be harmful for the woman and may cause adverse effect on fetal development. The children to mothers suffering from dual diagnosis are found to have more physical and psychological development deficits and low-birth weight. Additionally, while substance abuse can increase the risk of abruption, depression can lead to preeclampsia and suicidal tendencies among the pregnant women.

As per the findings, indications like depressive symptoms and addiction to alcohol or nicotine during the pregnancy can lead to depression and alcohol use disorder in the first postpartum year. At this stage, a woman invariably undergoes a lot of stress related to parenting and hormonal changes, which further escalates the risk of post pregnancy depression. Also, the co-existence of the conditions can make the woman incapable of providing proper prenatal care.

Need for treatment during pregnancy

Dual diagnosis during pregnancy often goes untreated, primarily due to less awareness about the possibility of co-existence of the conditions. So, normally the patient gets treatment for one of the conditions only at a time. This complicates the situation further. It is important to understand that the harmful consequences of co-existence of the conditions is not only limited to pregnancy, but can also extend to postnatal period. This calls for a need to come up with methods and practices to treat dual diagnosis in pregnant women to avoid its harmful effects.

Ideally, once the symptoms of dual diagnosis are identified during the pregnancy, it is important to seek dual diagnosis help immediately. But it’s not easy to diagnose dual diagnosis during routine obstetric care. To treat dual diagnosis, it is important to address both the mental disorder and substance abuse at the same time. Treating one issue at a time leaving the other untreated may pave the way for the untreated disorder to relapse. Thus, an integrated dual diagnosis rehabilitation that cures both the disorders together is the only solution.

If your loved one is living with co-occurring disorders or someone you know is in the need of dual diagnosis rehabs, contact the Dual Diagnosis Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number (855) 981-6047 or chat online to get instant assistance regarding some effective dual diagnosis programs and the best dual diagnosis centers.