WASHINGTON, DC – August 4, 2023 – On August 4th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first pill to treat postpartum depression. The generic name for the drug is zuranolone and the brand name is Zurzuvae. It is manufactured by Sage Therapeutics. The pill is taken once a day for 2 weeks.
Postpartum depression can occur in about 1 out of every 7 women after childbirth. Women can experience symptoms of sadness, guilt, or thoughts of hurting themselves or their newborn child. The illness can damage the bond that develops between the mother and her child resulting in physical and emotional developmental problems. These symptoms can also occur late in pregnancy. The medicine can prevent postpartum depression from occurring and can last for one month after the last dose.
Current treatment for postpartum depression includes counseling and the FDA-approved intravenous drug Zulresso. This medicine can only be administered in specific health-care facilities. The new drug can be taken at home.
Zuranolone works much faster than anti-depressants that are not specific for postpartum depression. It can start being effective in a few days. The other medicines can take weeks or months to be fully effective. Zuranolone is related to the hormone progesterone, one of the female hormones that rises during pregnancy and drops precipitously after childbirth. Its side-effects can include drowsiness, tiredness, and diarrhea. The pill should be taken at night before bedtime. Patients should not drive for at least 12 hours after taking the medicine because of potential drowsiness.
Other factors that may play a role in postpartum depression include: lower socioeconomic status, lower education level, and exposure to trauma and gender-based violence. Zuranolone may not help everyone with postpartum depression because of these other contributing factors.
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, email@example.com