Doctors believe new drug for postpartum depression could be a gamechanger

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 5:52 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The FDA approved the first-ever pill for treating postpartum depression.

Manufacturers Sage Therapeutics and Biogen said the drug, called Zurzuvae, will be available as soon as October. Dr. Cecil Bennett with Newnan Family Medicine said the pill will be a total game changer.

“The treatment options we currently have for postpartum depression, there are very few, they’re not very effective and they take a long time to work,” said Dr. Bennett.

The Policy Center for Maternal Mental Health gave Georgia an F for a lack of mental health support for new and expectant mothers. The group found that Georgia does not have enough providers and help for mothers struggling to pay for screenings.

More than 120,000 mothers give birth in Georgia every year. An estimated 85% of women go through mood changes after birth but 10-15% develop something more severe.

“As a resident after delivering a baby, I remember a mother that did not want to bond with her child. She wouldn’t even look at her. Some women with postpartum depression harm themselves or the baby and current treatment options may take weeks to work,” Dr. Bennett explained. “This newly approved medication for postpartum works as quickly as three days, meaning it can quickly alter a path that can be quite destructive.”

Shannon Stevenson is a former labor and delivery nurse who thought she knew what to expect. After giving birth, she felt like she was failing her daughter Reese.

“I kept thinking ‘I’m terrible at this.’ You see the worst-case scenario of headlines on the news and you have those fear of what if that could be me,” said Stevenson.

With the help of a therapist, she was able to recover from postpartum depression. She now advocates for other women in the state of Georgia as a board member for Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies.