FDA approves first prescription drug to treat postpartum depression

About 1-in-8 women who have given birth experience symptoms of postpartum depression.

Now, the first oral treatment for women with PPD is available.


Katlyn Pratt said her mental health worsened after the birth of her son Carson.

“I feel like my anxiety went through the roof,” she said. “I had absolutely no motivation to do anything. I had a newborn baby who obviously needed me, and all I wanted to do was sleep.”

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Three months later, she knew she needed more help. She saw an ad for a clinical trial testing a new treatment for post-partum depression and enrolled. Her symptoms improved within days.

“I was like full of energy,” she explained. “The biggest thing was like, I was going to sleep and woke up feeling rested.”

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The usual treatment for PPD could be the use of antidepressants, which take weeks to work.

Now, the FDA approved a prescription drug called Zurzuvae is available, the first pill to treat PPD.

“There is such a great need for fast-acting, antidepressant drugs in all types of depression, but particularly in the very vulnerable period where you have a postpartum mother and baby,” said Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody with UNC Health.

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Meltzer-Brody ran the clinical trials for Zurzuvae. Research showed that when the medication was taken for 14 days, it improved symptoms at Day 15 and as early as 3 days for women with PPD.

“For any mother who is feeling sad or blue in a way that is persistent or interfering with functioning, changes in eating or sleeping, feeling hopeless or having thoughts that life is not worth living, these are all things that should make you contact your doctor right away,” explained Meltzer-Brody.

“It’s really important to take care of yourself, not just your baby. Honestly, your baby is what matters most I know, but they also need a happy, healthy mom,” said Pratt.

Carson is now 3 years old. Pratt said she’s grateful she got the help she needed.

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