An Antidepressant Specifically for Postpartum Depression Could Be Available Soon

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a serious condition that affects about one in seven new mothers, yet there is currently no antidepressant in pill form specifically designed to treat it. A new drug could change that.

As Healthline reported, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is evaluating the safety and efficacy of Zuranolone, an antidepressant for PPD from the pharmaceutical company Biogen and Sage Therapeutics. Zuranolone is a rapid-acting medication delivered orally and designed to be taken once daily over the course of 14 days. The pill works by targeting key neurotransmitters in the brain associated with symptoms of PPD. This includes perinatal γ-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is known to be disrupted by pregnancy and childbirth.

To date, the FDA has only approved one other treatment for PPD: Zulresso, AKA brexanolone, an injection delivered intravenously. Zulresso also targets GABA to improve patients’ moods, although Zuranolone’s mode of delivery could make it a lot more accessible.

What’s more, Zuranolone also seems to work fast. In one 2021 clinical trial funded by the drug company, some PPD patients who took the medication for two weeks reported alleviated symptoms in just two days. Overall, most patients experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression.

The drug’s rapid-acting quality separates it from conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a common type of antidepressant used to treat PPD in combination with the brexanolone injection. Most SSRIs take about a month to begin working.

“I think this could be life-changing for many women,” Dr. Jill Purdie, an OB/GYN and medical director at Pediatrix Medical Group, told Healthline. “I feel this pill could really help a lot of mothers struggling with depression and anxiety to feel better quickly and be able to better care for themselves and their children.”

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