Sad, anxious, empty, worthless, guilty — these are not words normally associated with new motherhood, but for more than 400,000 of the women that will give birth in America this year, these emotions are all too familiar. As many as 25 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression (PPD) in the first year. Characterized by severe disruptions in sleep, change in appetite, irritability, excessive crying without cause or provocation, lack of interest in your infant, trouble concentrating or making decisions, panic attacks and even thoughts of death or suicide, PPD is every new mother's biggest worry, but a new drug brings hope of changing all of that.
A REASON FOR HOPE — BUT AN EXPENSIVE ONE
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced that it had approved the first-ever drug intended to treat PPD — and it can help a new mother within hours. Since there are currently no FDA-approved antidepressants for postpartum depression, this is a breakthrough which experts says offers new hope to new moms.
"This approval marks the first time a drug has been specifically approved to treat postpartum depression," Dr. Tiffany Farchione, acting director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a press release on March 19.
But Zulresso has been approved with a "risk evaluation and mitigation strategy," and will only be available to women through a restricted distribution program at certified health care facilities where the mother and be carefully monitored. Zulresso will be administered as a single 60-hour IV drip, priced at $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment. The one-time treatment is not yet covered by insurance, ut the manufacturer of the drug — Sage Therapeutics — says it's working on that.
There are likely to be hurdles in delivering the drug because of the one-time infusion that takes 60 hours, however, it should be available in June, 2019.
Currently, most treatments for PPD involve talk therapy and other antidepressants like Zoloft and Celexa, however following birth, these medications can take between two to four weeks to start having an impact.
In the U.S., it's estimated that every year, more than 400,000 infants are born to moms who are depressed. Up to this point in time, no antidepressant medications have been specifically FDA-approved to treat PPD.