A newly approved medication for postpartum depression could mark a major advance for new mothers – if they can access the drug.
Called brexanolone, the drug is the first ever that’s specifically approved to treat postpartum depression. The condition affects one in nine women, who experience feelings of worthlessness and disconnect from their new baby. The condition can be easy to miss, largely because symptoms of new motherhood such as sleeplessness and fatigue can also be symptoms of postpartum depression. Untreated, the condition can undermine a mother’s ability to bond and care for her baby or herself. In extreme cases, it can lead to suicide.
Clinical trials of the new drug showed exciting – and near-instantaneous – results, with women improving as quickly as 48 hours after treatment. And those benefits lasted for months afterward. One member of the FDA advisory council that recommended approval of the drug called it “groundbreaking.” Current treatment typically includes standard antidepressants or talk therapy, both of which can require weeks to take effect.