What to know about the new pill for postpartum depression
Pregnancy and the postpartum period are often difficult even when everything is ideal, but adding postpartum depression or anxiety into the mix can make that transition even more challenging for a lot of women.
To help women with postpartum depression, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved a pill that has, so far, proved to work faster than other postpartum depression treatments. Reproductive psychiatrist Neha Hudepohl, MD, answered some questions about the new pill for postpartum depression and what you need to know.
Is postpartum depression a common problem?
“Postpartum depression is probably the most common complication of pregnancy,” Dr. Hudepohl said. “It can affect up to 1 in 7 women within the first 12 months after having a baby, and in some populations, it can actually be more like 1 in 4 women.”
What are the signs of postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression happens because of a combination of sensitivity to changes in a woman’s hormones that happen in pregnancy and during and after delivery. The signs of postpartum depression include:
- Depressed mood
- Feeling hopeless, worthless or even guilty about things
- Difficulty feeling any bonding with the baby
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep changes
- Reduced energy and concentration
- Fears of something bad happening to the baby
“Some of the most concerning signs of postpartum depression are when women have thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves or other people, and when they have a hard time bonding with their baby,” Dr. Hudepohl said.
Why is this new medicine significant?
The new pill for postpartum depression, called Zurzuvae (zuranolone), is the first oral medication to be approved for postpartum depression on the market.
“This medication is a neuroactive steroid, which means it works a lot like some of the hormones in your body that change around the time of pregnancy and delivery and helps compensate for some of those changes,” Dr. Hudepohl said. “In women with postpartum depression, this medicine can help improve those symptoms.”
Studies showed that symptoms improved very rapidly, within days of starting the treatment. The treatment course is 14 days for this medication, and many women can achieve remission of symptoms in that time frame.
What are the side effects of the new pill for postpartum depression?
Studies showed that some women experienced dizziness or sleepiness while taking this medication. There can also be some nausea associated with this medication.
Is there anyone who should not take this type of medication?
“The studies were done in women with postpartum depression as their primary diagnosis, so women who have other conditions, like bipolar disorder or other anxiety disorders, are probably not eligible for this treatment right now,” Dr. Hudepohl said. “Women with severe postpartum depression could really benefit from this medication.”
Women should speak with their OB/GYN to see if they would be a good candidate for this treatment.
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