Could the new postpartum depression drug ease mothers’ woes?

postpartum depression drugCC: Sharon McCutcheon at Unsplash

Postpartum depression is a condition that new mothers experience within a year of giving birth. It’s thought that a mix of the strains that come with being a new mom contribute toward it. With changing hormones, less sleep, and an altered lifestyle, it’s no wonder the baby blues are so common. With a new postpartum depression drug about to receive FDA approval, treating it could become easier.

What is postpartum depression?

It’s a type of depression that women experience after giving birth. Most will notice the signs within three weeks, although they can start up to a year after having a baby.

Much like other forms of depression, its common features are sadness, hopelessness, and guilt. Becoming a new mom is often an overwhelming experience. From the lifestyle adjustments to the lack of sleep, nothing can really prepare you for it. If you’re experiencing other forms of stress outside of being a mother, you may be more likely to need a postpartum depression drug than most.

Around 1 in 7 mothers in the United States will experience PPD in the year after giving birth. In Asian countries, you’re 65% more likely to experience it as a new mother.

How is the postpartum depression drug different?

The new postpartum depression drug is called Brexanalone and it’s expected to receive FDA approval in a month. Its commercial name is Zulresso and it’s the first medication of its kind.

Traditionally, women who require treatment for depression following birth blend talking therapies with everyday anti-depressants. One of the biggest downsides to this is that everyday anti-depressants can take weeks to work. Additionally, life as a mother often isn’t conducive to attending regular talking therapies.

In contrast, the new postpartum depression drug is available as a 60-hour IV infusion. Its fast-acting nature means there’s no long and painful adjustment period for new moms. During the Phase III trials, it was found that it’s effective in treating moderate to severe PPD.

What other treatments are available for postpartum depression?

Adapting to life as a new parent is understandably difficult. As such, in addition to a postpartum depression drug, psychotherapy could still prove useful.

Psychotherapy is an excellent way to discover what is causing your shift in mood. Sometimes the reasons aren’t obvious, which is why having a professional guide you through identifying sources of stress is handy. Additionally, you can work with your psychotherapist to find different coping mechanisms. You may also spend time discovering how you can reach out to others for support.

Until the FDA gives approval for the postpartum depression drug, antidepressants will remain as another first-line treatment. Many can be used while breastfeeding without any side-effects. However, your prescribing doctor will still look into this before placing you on any medication.

Ultimately, it’s always wise to take it easy on yourself. Reach out for support wherever possible and don’t turn down help when it’s offered.

About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.