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New Pill for Postpartum Depression: What You Need to Know

If you worry about suffering from postpartum depression, there is hope. The FDA has approved a new pill for postpartum depression, which affects as much as 10 percent of new mothers.

One of the biggest problems surrounding postpartum depression is that it often goes unrecognized, leading to a worsening of symptoms before help is sought. And your risk increases if you have a history of depression.

Symptoms of Postpartum

The most notable symptom is prolonged sadness, but it’s important to watch for other symptoms as well, including:

  • Fear that you are not being a good mom
  • Feelings of misery when you’re not with your baby
  • Feeling excessive guilt
  • Diet changes, whether that’s eating much more or less
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive moodiness

Why Many Women Don’t Seek Treatment

Too often, new moms don’t seek treatment. This could be from a perceived social stigma about mental illness. It’s possible, too, that you might question if you’d get support from your doctor. It may also be a question of access if seeing a doctor in person is too challenging. Fortunately, many OB-GYN doctors now offer video or telehealth to make appointments more accessible.

Benefits of the New Pill

The new FDA-approved pill, zuranolone, is reported to take effect in as little as three days, which is fast compared with the two to four weeks that it often takes for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, to effect a noticeable change.

This pill could be a good fit for you if you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and if you do not have a history of depression. It can also be prescribed and taken quickly and easily, making compliance much more likely.

Downside of the New Pill

But it might not be a fit for everyone, including:

  • If you have a history of suicide attempts, this pill would not be recommended as it slightly increases the risk of suicidal ideation.
  • If you have a long history of depression, it might be best for you to go back on whichever medication that you know works for you. This new pill is designed to be a short-term solution that someone would stop taking after two weeks.
  • If you have mild depression, your doctor may first suggest talk therapy to see if that lessens your symptoms.

Postpartum Depression Vs. Depression

The biggest difference between postpartum depression and regular depression is simply when it arises: Postpartum depression shows up in the postpartum period, often referred to as the fourth trimester. This period starts two weeks after giving birth and lasts about six months.

If you experience any of the above depression symptoms for longer than six to 12 months, it’s considered regular depression and it may be time to shift treatment to a longer-term option.

In any instance of postpartum depression, doctors recommend talk therapy with a mental health specialist first as it is the least risky option. If you have already started therapy, your doctor will want to know how long you’ve been trying it before they consider medication. Doctors also ask if you have worked on minimizing the factors contributing to your depression. Some issues, such as a baby not sleeping through the night, cannot be helped, but others might be.

If you try talk therapy and that doesn’t result in any changes in your symptoms, this drug may be the solution. Even by simply entering the market, this new drug has helped increase awareness for postpartum depression, which is a very serious issue. It’s important that women know that their doctors are their advocates and will help them find whichever medicine is the best fit for them to enjoy a happy, healthy life. Talk to your doctor if you think the new medication might be a good fit for you.

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