Updated Aug 7, 2023, 12:29pm EDT
North America

How a new pill could treat and destigmatize postpartum depression

REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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The News

U.S. regulators approved the first ever pill to treat postpartum depression — a condition that, without treatment, can affect one in eight women after childbirth and can last years.

We’ve gathered news and insights into how the pill will change the scope of maternal mental health.

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  • Unlike general antidepressants that start to relieve symptoms of depression in two weeks, clinical trials of Zuranolone, the new postpartum drug, can ease depression in as little as three days. Dr. Ruta Nonacs, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital said that the effectiveness of the pill will encourage new mothers to seek help and reduce the stigma surrounding postpartum depression. She added that so often patients that suffer from postpartum depression “fall through the cracks,” because of feelings of shame and embarrassment. — The New York Times
  • Mental health disorders have become the leading cause of maternal death in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported, and contribute to nearly one in four pregnancy-related deaths — either through suicide or drug overdose during pregnancy or within a year after birth. New mothers often struggle to seek help because there is no one kind of doctor to tend to new mothers and their mental health. According to the Journal, there are only three inpatient care facilities dedicated to maternal mental health care across the country and nearly 30 that offer outpatient care.
  • Prior efforts to combat postpartum depression have included a 60-hour IV drip. While proven effective, the drip takes postpartum patients away from their family and new baby and may cause added stress. The pill, however, will be more accessible and can be taken in the safety of one’s home, Patricia Kinser of VCU’s Institute for Women’s Health. Kinser says, however, that zuranolone has not been tested in people who intend to breastfeed, so it may still “limit accessibility right now.” — PBS