Women's Health

First Pill to Treat Postpartum Depression Approved by FDA

The FDA approved the first-ever oral medication that treats postpartum depression in adults. Read more about recognizing the signs of postpartum depression and who is eligible

Aug. 25, 2023

A tired mother with her infant child

After delivering a baby, many new moms live with the ‘baby blues’ for a week or two as their bodies and minds adjust to the new reality of having a child. It is common to feel irritable or overwhelmed, have trouble sleeping and struggle to eat healthy amounts of food.

When these feelings intensify and last for longer periods of time, they might be considered signs of postpartum depression. If left untreated, postpartum depression can linger for months.

The FDA recently approved a new oral medication called Zurzuvae that helps to treat postpartum depression in adults. Catalina Vial, MD, is a OBGYN provider with Rochester Regional Health and explains how the medication works, its potential side effects, and who is eligible for it.

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Identifying postpartum depression

Roughly 1 in 8 women experience symptoms of postpartum depression in the U.S., according to research by the CDC.

Common symptoms of postpartum depression include:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame or inadequacy
  • Drastic mood shifts
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty thinking clearly or making decisions
  • Pulling away from family, friends and baby
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Trouble with sleep and appetite
  • Thoughts about suicide or harming the baby

“Living with postpartum depression is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that affects not only the mother but the physical and mental development of the baby,” Dr. Vial said.

How Zurzuvae works

Zurzuvae is prescribed to be taken once a day for 14 days in the evening with food. The recommended dose is a single 50mg pill.

Patients who are eligible for this medication need to be diagnosed by their provider as experiencing a major depressive episode starting in their third trimester or within four weeks of delivering their baby.

Some side effects of the medication may include:

  • common cold
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • UTIs

The FDA warns patients that Zurzuvae might cause fetal harm or suicidal thoughts and behavior. It can impact a person’s ability to drive and perform potentially hazardous activities.

Sage Therapeutics, Inc., which manufactures Zurzuvae, announced the drug will cost $15,900 for the full 14-day treatment. It is expected to be available in late 2023.

“Giving new mothers access to treatment for postpartum depression is vital to ensuring the health and well-being of mothers and children at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives,” Dr. Vial said.

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Catalina M. Vial, MD
Obstetrics And Gynecology
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