The first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising results

The first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising resultsThe first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising resultsThe first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising results

It was supposed to be an exciting time. The new mother had just given birth at age 42, after a much-desired pregnancy. But within a week, she developed postpartum depression.

This medical condition, characterized by extreme sadness, anxiety, or despair following childbirth, affects up to 1 in 5 women.

The first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising results
The first pill for postpartum depression reaches patients. Doctors report promising results

At five months postpartum, the woman was stuck in a haze, according to Dr. Misty Richards, medical director of perinatal psychiatry at the Maternal Outpatient Mental Health Services Clinic at UCLA Health. Dr. Richards treated the patient and described her experience to NBC News.

“She wasn’t taking showers. She wasn’t eating,” Richards said, adding that the woman’s husband had taken a leave of absence from work to care for his wife and new baby.

Richards’ clinic has treated hundreds of patients with similar conditions. Initially, she connected the woman to an intensive outpatient program, but even while attending, the patient was actively suicidal, Richards said.

That’s when Richards prescribed zuranolone — the first-ever pill to treat postpartum depression.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug in August, but it took months for supply to become available. Several psychiatrists said they’re just starting to write their first prescriptions, as it has taken time to find suitable candidates for the drug who are willing to take it. They hope it will be a game changer because it’s fast-acting and can be taken at home.

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