One of the most significant drawbacks to giving birth has to be the possibility of experiencing postpartum depression. According to the American Psychology Association (APA), 1 in 7 women experience a severe depression that goes beyond the “baby blues.” It’s quite common to feel stressed, sad, anxious, lonely, tired or weepy as the APA reports, but postpartum is a much more serious condition. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms include, “extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion,” which makes “it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or others.” Now after years of research, there’s finally a way actually to treat it.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug brexanolone that will be sold as Zulresso, CNN reports. It won’t come in a pill form but will be administered through an IV drip, which means patients will only be able to take the medication in a hospital. That also means the drug won’t be cheap since a hospital stay is required. But according to reports, the drug will work within hours. The medication requires women to take a dose consisting of a 60-hour IV drip and could cost around $20,000 to $35,000 per treatment.
“There are no FDA approved antidepressants for postpartum depression, so approval of the first medication of its kind is a breakthrough for patients,” Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis told CNN.
The New York Times interviewed a 33-year-old mother who showed symptoms of postpartum depression and took the IV drip.
“I started having intrusive thoughts that would not go away,” she told the Times. “‘Your daughter deserves a better mom and your husband deserves a better wife’ — that would just play on repeat.” Then after she “volunteered for the brexanolone trial,” she immediately felt better.
“I actually woke up from a nap and those intrusive thoughts that played on repeat, they were gone,” she said and added, “I’m not going to say I was 100 percent, but I will say there was so much less of a gap to get there.”
While the drug is a breakthrough, unfortunately, women living on a fixed income won’t be able to experience the benefits of this drug. With such a high cost to administer the medication, which requires a hospital stay, there’s no way low-income women will be able to get this kind of treatment.
Women of color have a higher ratio of experiencing postpartum depression, which is 1 out of 5. According to a 2016 report, 38 percent of new moms of color show symptoms of postpartum depression. That staggering number shows they are the ones that need this breakthrough in treatment.