Baby Blues: World’s First Postpartum Pill


RALEIGH, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s known as one of the happiest times in a woman’s life. The birth of her baby. But that’s not the case for every new mom. One in seven moms are overcome with feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt and even suicide. Postpartum depression or PPD is on the rise. The CDC found that the rate of depression diagnosed at delivery was seven times higher in 2015 than in 2000. There’s a drug newly approved by the FDA that’s being hailed as a lifesaver for new parents. Baby blues

Little Mave is Brooke Wiesner’s third child and most difficult pregnancy — born four weeks premature.

Brooke says, “I was pretty depressed right afterwards. I didn’t feel about her, like the way I feel, like I should have felt about her.”

Two months after Mave’s birth …

Brooke says, “I had all my kids in the car, and I was like, I have to go to a doctor because I’m like, if my kids weren’t in the car, I don’t know, I might would drive it off the side of the road or something.”

Suicide accounts for about 20 percent of postpartum deaths and is the leading cause of maternal mortality in the US. That’s why the first two FDA approved drugs to treat PPD are literally lifesavers.

Riah Patterson, MD, Psychiatrist at University of North Carolina says, “The idea that we can get people better in a matter of days or weeks is absolutely critical in this really delicate imperative timeframe.”

The first drug – Zulresso– requires a hospital stay and is given by IV for 60 hours. And now, the FDA has approved a pill form – Zurzuvae– that new moms can take over a course of 14 days at home.

Doctor Patterson says, “I see people who have dramatic changes in their mood who at first don’t talk about their family or their baby at all coming into the infusion and by the end are showing me photos.”

Brooke chose the IV version. In the first 24 hours … She says, “I don’t know, I was like super hopeful and then probably 48 hours I like had no feelings of sadness at all.”

And now Brooke is back – being an active, involved, loving mom to Piper, Cole, and Mave.

These two drugs are the first to specifically treat postpartum depression. Data suggests up to 95 percent of women never reach remission as their PPD was not recognized or undertreated. If you are experiencing postpartum depression, you can call or text the international helpline at 1-800-944-4773. If you are having suicidal thoughts right now, call the crisis lifeline at 9-8-8.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Bob Walko, Editor, Matt Goldschmidt



REPORT #3175

BACKGROUND: Approximately one in eight women are said to have postpartum depression (PPD) after giving birth. A diagnosis is made if the symptoms last longer than two weeks. PPD is very common and considered a mental health condition that can affect any pregnant woman. Some of the most common signs of PPD are feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed. Many women state they don’t feel connected to their baby, and some even say they don’t feel love towards their baby. The most common symptoms of PPD are feeling depressed most of the day every day; feeling shame, guilt, or like a failure; feeling panicked or scared a lot of the time; and having severe mood swings.

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DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: To reach a diagnosis of PPD, a doctor will review with a patient how they are feeling and go over any symptoms being experienced. They could also order a blood test to check hormone levels. Treatment for PPD is very similar to any other depression with the most common being prescription medications and talk therapy. If PPD is severe enough, electroconvulsive (ECT) therapy may be used to treat severe depressions with hallucinations or delusions or overwhelming suicidal thoughts. Medications like antidepressants will help resolve immediate issues like lack of sleep and appetite changes. However, a woman who is breastfeeding must be careful with which antidepressant to take. Talk therapy is the next step in treating PPD. This type of specialist will meet with a patient regularly to help work through feelings and habits. The two types of talk therapy are cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy.

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ADVANCES IN PPD DIAGNOSIS: A study led by Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that communication among cells is altered in pregnant women who develop PPD after giving birth. The study suggests that women who develop PPD are unable to efficiently remove aging and defective cell components. This process is called autophagy and is known to break down in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. “Potentially, postpartum depression could be treated using certain Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease medications that induce autophagy,” says Sarven Sabunciyan, PhD, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Researchers agreed that the study was limited by small numbers and a lack of racial diversity. However, if further studies confirm the findings, they could potentially develop a blood test that can identify women who are pregnant and at risk for developing PPD after delivery.


* For More Information, Contact: 

 Kendall Daniels, Communication Specialist II

UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine

(804) 337-6072

Or visit the UNC Center for Women’s Mood Disorders


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