The FDA approved first drug to treat postpartum depression

DORAL, FL – A drug to treat postpartum depression was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday following two company studies in which it was seen women who took the pill, the first of its kind, had fewer signs of depression over a four-to-six-week period when compared with those who took a dummy pill. 

Zurzuvae, the name given to this medication produced by Sage Therapeutics and co-developed with the pharmaceutical company Biogen, is intended for adults with severe depression related to childbirth or pregnancy.  

The new drug to treat postpartum depression has to be taken once a day for 14 days, and it was revealed its side effects include drowsiness and dizziness, although they are milder than the IV version. Both the pill and IV forms copy a derivative of progesterone, the naturally occurring female hormone required to maintain a pregnancy. Levels of the hormone can plunge after childbirth.

According to a report by the Associated Press, it works by stimulating a different brain pathway than older antidepressants that target serotonin, the chemical linked to mood and emotions. This kind of medication is called neurosteroids. 

“Having access to an oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women coping with extreme, and sometimes life-threatening, feelings,” said Dr. Tiffany Farchione, FDA’s director of psychiatric drugs, in a statement.

Postpartum depression affects an estimated 400,000 people a year. It usually lasts within a couple of weeks, but at times it can be prolonged for months or even years. Standard treatment includes counseling or antidepressants, which can take an extended period of time to work and is not necessarily the best resource for everyone.


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