The transition from pregnancy to postpartum can be difficult for mothers. Welcoming a newborn baby and starting life anew can be exciting, but for many women it is not a journey of emotional bliss. It can cause a wide variety of powerful emotions – from joy and excitement to fear and anxiety. The stigma of postpartum depression held it back for many years. But the growing conversation about the struggle of motherhood has opened people’s minds to this reality. In a major step toward acknowledging the seriousness of postpartum depression, the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Zurzuve (zuranolone), the first oral drug indicated for the treatment of PPD in adults.

What is postpartum depression?

postpartum depression This is usually a depressive episode that usually occurs after childbirth. The postpartum period is usually the first six weeks after a baby is born. Women may experience a mix of emotions – anxiety, difficulty sleeping, mood swings and crying fits – also known as the ‘baby blues’.

According to Dr. Pooja C Thukral, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Faridabad, baby blues gets better in two weeks. But in a section of women, these baby blues can turn severe and they may experience depression, anxiety or psychosis. Feelings of sadness, guilt and lack of worth take over. This can affect not only the mother-child relationship, but also the individual health of the mother and child.

Therefore, it is important to have an awareness of postpartum depression, recognize its signs, and seek timely diagnosis and treatment.

symptoms of postpartum depression
Watch out for postpartum depression symptoms in new moms. Image Courtesy: shutterstock

FDA approves first oral treatment for postpartum depression

Earlier in August 2023, the FDA announced the approval for the PPD pill. This is an advancement from the IV injection used by some health facilities to treat postpartum depression.

Tiffany R., MD, director of the Division of Psychiatry at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation. Farchione, “Access to oral medication would be a beneficial option for many of these women experiencing extreme and sometimes life-threatening emotions.” and research, was quoted as saying.

Reportedly the efficacy of the pill has been demonstrated in two randomized studies considering the safety of mothers and their baby. The FDA recommends a daily dose of 50 mg of Zurzuve — once every day, for 14 days, with a fatty meal in the evening.

The pill doesn’t come without side effects. The FDA clearly states that it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, the common cold, and urinary tract infections. In some cases, the use of Zurzuve may lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior and even fetal harm. The FDA says, “Women should use effective contraception while taking Zurzuve and for one week after taking it.”

While this may be a positive step in this direction, there is still a long way to go before the pill is authorized for use in India. Until that happens, there is a need to continue efforts towards spreading awareness about postpartum depression, early detection and treatment.

Postpartum depression can affect mother and baby
Postpartum depression can affect the mother and the baby. Image Courtesy: shutterstock

What are common risk factors for postpartum depression?

Dr. Pooja C Thukral says that the risk factors for PPD are previous mental illness, discord with husband or other family members, financial burden, stillbirth, neonatal death and previous episode of PPD.

Studies have also looked at how having a female baby, lack of family support, sick baby or infant death, premature or low birth weight baby, unwanted or unplanned pregnancy can also increase the chances of postpartum depression. Is.

Common Symptoms of Postpartum Depression

A woman going through postpartum depression can usually go through the following.

* excessive crying
* loss of appetite and sleep
* suicidal thoughts
* having thoughts of harming the baby

Click here to read in detail about symptoms of postpartum depression,

How to help someone with postnatal depression?

Immediate family members and close friends can play an important role in assisting the mother by assessing her condition and referring her to a psychologist or psychiatrist for treatment.

“If symptoms like feeling sad, not being a good mother, and excessive crying persist for more than two weeks, a visit to a psychologist is recommended. A mother will be assessed by a psychologist and her need for medications for (general) depression will be assessed,” Dr Thukral tells Health Shots.

From her own experience with postpartum depression patients, the expert says that sometimes, new moms just want to be heard without being criticized. “Some of them feel better after they quit and I recommend some of them see a psychiatrist right away, depending on the severity of their symptoms.”

The stigma attached to PPD needs to break down more. Dr. Thukral says that the Indian government should prioritize women’s mental health at the national level by making mental health care centers available, accessible and affordable, especially for new mothers.

Sharing some tips for a mother to reduce the burden of mental health challenges, she adds, “Timely identification and referral to a specialist is important. Health care workers visiting the homes of women who cannot access health facilities specifically to check their mental health can be a tool to spot PPD. Questionnaires can also be designed to screen for symptoms of anxiety/depression in women after delivery.

After all, mental health matters!

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