Motherhood, often lauded as one of life's most transformative experiences, can be a whirlwind of emotions. Amidst these fluctuations, many mothers grapple with an often under-discussed concern: postpartum depression. Though it remains a silent struggle for many, the medical community has been hard at work searching for effective treatments. In this ongoing journey, the FDA's recent approval of Zurzuvae, a postpartum depression pill, marks a significant milestone in female health and well-being, especially in the postnatal period.
The Rising Incidence of Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression (PPD) has gained attention due to its growing prevalence.
Based on research conducted by CDC, 1 in every 8 moms goes through symptoms of PPD.
Additionally, more mothers are being diagnosed with depression after childbirth. It was 7 times higher in 2015 than it had been in 2000.
Afterward, the outbreak of COVID-19 had another negative effect.
A recent study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found increased symptoms of PPD among new mothers during the first year of the pandemic.
This trend then escalated, reaching a peak of 7.7% between December 2020 and March 2021.
5 Things To Know About This New Postpartum Depression Pill
Indeed, here are the 5 key things you should know about this new postpartum depression pill.
- Daily routine: Zurzuvae is a newly developed postpartum depression pill. It acts like a little helper and can be taken once a day for two weeks.
It is best to have it in the evening with a fatty meal. Avoid driving or handling heavy items for at least 12 hours after taking this pill.
If you're considering having a baby, use extra protection while taking Zurzuvae for a week afterward.
- Availability of Zurzuvae: While the postpartum depression pill seems beneficial, it requires approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration, which may take approximately 90 days.
After that, you'll be able to find it on the shelves this year. The cost has yet to be disclosed.
The Zurzuvae makers, Sage Therapeutics and Biogen, have chosen to keep it confidential.
- Good news from studies: Zurzuvae has passed random clinical trials with flying colors.
These extensive trials showed that it effectively alleviated symptoms of PPD in women for 45 days after taking it.
- Limited choices: There's only one other FDA-approved drug for PPD called Zulresso (brexanolone).
It requires a continuous intravenous (IV) infusion over 60 hours for approximately 2.5 days.
Unfortunately, it can be quite costly, ranging from $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment.
- Helping the brain: Zurzuvae does its thing by bringing balance to your brain's network, ensuring everything works well.
It's like a gentle nudge to help you return to feeling like yourself.
How Does Zurzuvae Work?
When a woman suffers from PPD, she frequently has a problem with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a type of brain chemical.
In conditions like postpartum depression, GABA levels are reduced, and it doesn’t perform the functions it’s supposed to.
Zurzuvae is designed to work on this particular brain chemical (the reason why this drug is specific to PPD).
It is a manmade version of a hormone called allopregnanolone. Ideally, when this hormone is present at normal levels, it supports GABA activity and keeps feelings of depression at bay.
However, in those with PPD, allopregnanolone levels drop.
Zurzuvae acts as a replacement for this, bringing GABA levels back to normal.
Zurzuvae has the advantage of being a once-a-day pill, making it a more convenient option than its predecessor, Zulresso, which requires an injection.
How Effective Is It?
The randomized clinical trials (NCT04442503) were conducted to test Zurzuvae's effectiveness.
The trials were meticulously organized to be double-blind, implying that neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the real medication.
195 women with PPD were split into two groups and underwent analysis.
One group (n=98) received 50mg Zurzuvae, while the other group (n=97) was given a placebo (a dummy pill with no effect).
The outcomes of the study were promising.
Women who took a daily dose of 50mg Zurzuvae for two weeks observed a noticeable reduction in their PPD symptoms on Day 15.
Specifically, their symptoms scored -15.6 on the measurement scale.
In comparison, the placebo group scored -11.6 points on the same scale.
This indicates a notable difference of -4.0 points.
These results were evaluated using a specialized depression measurement tool, the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale (HAMD-17).
The encouraging news is that improvements began as early as day 3 and remained till day 45.
Note: Under the brand name Zurzuvae, Zuranolone is sold.
Side Effects Of Postpartum Depression Pill
If you're considering using a postpartum depression pill, it's important to be aware of possible side effects.
Here's what you should know:
- Drowsiness: You might feel sleepy or less alert than usual.
- Dizziness: Some people may experience a sensation of spinning or unsteadiness.
- Diarrhea: Upset stomach and loose bowel movements can occur.
- Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired or lacking energy is possible.
- Cold symptoms: You might catch a common cold with symptoms like a congested or runny nose.
- Urinary tract infection: There's a chance of developing discomfort during urination or an urge to urinate frequently.
Important points to remember:
- The use of this postpartum depression pill may lead to the occurrence of suicidal thoughts and may be harmful to a developing child.
- Individual responses can vary; not everyone will experience these side effects.
- If you notice these difficulties or have concerns, discussing them with your healthcare provider immediately is a good idea.
Summary: Postpartum Depression Pill
Zurzuvae is the first FDA-approved postpartum depression pill to alleviate symptoms of PPD in women.
It brings a ray of hope with some solid proof from tests that show it can help women feel better mentally.
Zurzuvae offers a simpler way to take it (just once a day), with solid results from clinical trials backing it up.
The numbers don't lie – PPD is rising, and the pandemic has toughed things.
With Zurzuvae, the path to the early days of motherhood seems brighter and more hopeful.
It is essential to take your doctor's advice before considering this postpartum depression pill.