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A New Frontier: Pharmaceutical Relief for Postpartum Depression

This is a historic month with regard to a recent breakthrough in the world of Postpartum Depression (PPD). On Tuesday, March 19th, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug specifically designed to aid in the relief of PPD. This drug is the first of its kind. It is called, Brexanolone and will be marketed under the name Zulresso. The drug produces a significant decrease in symptoms in women with severe to moderate PPD.

How does it work?

The drug is administered via a one-time transfusion over a 60-hour period. For this reason, new mothers who receive this treatment must remain in a certified medical center for proper supervision. According to the principal investigator of the Brexanolone studies, Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, the drug is a synthetic form of the progesterone hormone, allopregnanolone. This hormone is found in the brain and often helps to manage depression and anxiety by slowing down neural activity.

The drug is reportedly fast acting. Effects can be felt within 48 hours of the infusion. This is a true benefit because fast acting means mothers will immediately feel some sort of relief. This relief will enable them to care for and bond with their babies. This treatment is groundbreaking because the current landscape of drug options primarily includes antidepressants, which can take several weeks to reach full effect.

Some common side effects of this drug are noted as dizziness and sleepiness. The most extreme effects were fainting or temporary loss of consciousness.

Hope on the Horizon

The cost of this treatment currently averages $34,000 per patient. This treatment is quite costly. However, insurance carriers are hopeful to soon be able to cover treatment costs. It is important to note that several sources indicate that a pill with a similar molecular make-up to Brexanolone is currently in clinical trials. A pill with the benefits of the current infusion technique could be a very real possibility in the coming years. Moreover, Brexanolone is reported as safe for nursing mothers and their babies.

This drug is a progressive direction in research and relief for new mothers who manage PPD symptoms. It is also a great symbol of hope for those that manage this debilitating complication of pregnancy and the birthing process. Immediate relief can be within arm’s reach.

For questions relevant to maternal mental health topics, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.


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