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FDA Approves Potentially Game-Changing Drug to Treat Post-Partum Depression

By Belal Awad · August 5, 2023

In brief…

  • Top researcher Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis praised the FDA's approval this week of Zuranolone, a powerful new drug for postpartum depression (PPD)
  • The once-daily tablet showed rapid reduction of depressive symptoms within three days of starting the medication.
  • Deligiannidis urged insurers to make the potentially game-changing treatment accessible to women.
FDA-approved Zuranolone holds promise for the treatment of postpartum depression.  Peter van der Sluijs/Wikimedia

The FDA’s approval this week of Zuranolone marks a major milestone in the treatment of postpartum depression, according to Dr. Kristina M. Deligiannidis, a top perinatal psychiatry researcher.

“Women taking the medication during the study saw a broad reduction of depressive symptoms,” Deligiannidis told CNN. PPD symptoms include sadness, loss of interest, loss of concentration, appetite changes, and difficulties with sleep and insomnia.

Zuranolone, taken in the form of a daily tablet, showed in clinical trials a rapid reduction in depressive symptoms within three days of starting the medication.
According to Deligiannidis, the Zuranolone group demonstrated significantly better results compared to the placebo. “What we saw was that the medication was really decreasing these symptoms across the board, which we saw to a much lesser extent in those women taking the placebo,” she said.

While the question of insurance coverage for the new, potentially groundbreaking treatment remains uncertain, Deligiannidis voiced hope that insurers would eventually cover the cost of Zuranolone, stressing the importance of making the treatment accessible to women who need it.

“Prior to this, we know that very few women received adequate treatment for postpartum depression. The majority seek care very late after bearing the illness for many months,” Deligiannidis said. “We end up with only treating about 10% of women with postpartum depression adequately. And that’s not acceptable.”

According to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, “One in five women will experience maternal mental health (MMH) conditions during pregnancy or the first year postpartum in the US, and seventy-five percent of those women will go untreated.”

Deligiannidis believes Zuranolone could be a game-changer in treating PPD, providing a fast-acting solution that could help women return to their normal lives more reliably after childbirth. “I think this is a really special tool because it can bring down depressive symptoms quickly over a short period of time, and really get women feeling back to feeling themselves, and get them back into their lives as they wish to be,” she said.