The First Drug to Treat Postpartum Depression Has Just Been Approved by the FDA

The First Drug to Treat Postpartum Depression Has Just Been Approved by the FDA

Postpartum depression afflicts as many as 400,000 women in the United States each year.

By Marianne Garvey
FDA approved postpartum drug

The FDA has just approved the first drug to treat postpartum depression, and it will be available in June.

Until now, new mothers experiencing postpartum depression “have been prescribed the same antidepressants used for treating depression in the general population, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” reports NBC News. “The drugs can take weeks to take effect, and do not address the hormonal changes that women go through during and after pregnancy.”

The new treatment is the first drug specifically developed for postpartum depression; it's called called brexanolone, or Zulresso. It contains a synthetic form of the hormone allopregnanolone, a progesterone derivative, in it. A woman’s progesterone plummets after she gives birth, which contributes to postpartum depression.

The drug is delivered intravenously over the course of a 60-hour infusion. It must be supervised by a doctor or nurse in a hospital. In a trial, many women saw a major improvement in their symptoms within just 24 hours. They also still felt better 30 days after the infusion. Side effects were drowsiness and dizziness.

“This can potentially transform women’s lives and that of their families,” Dr. Steve Kanes, chief medical officer of Sage Therapeutics, the Cambridge, Mass., biopharmaceutical company that developed brexanolone, told NBC News. “It’s not just the mother who suffers when there’s postpartum depression. It’s the newborn. It’s the other people in their family.”

Postpartum depression afflicts as many as 400,000 women in the United States each year.

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