The FDA announced the approval of a new drug, Zulresso, that is specifically formulated to treat postpartum depression (PPD). It is administered via IV infusion over 60 hours and requires hospital admission. While there has been some negativity surrounding the administration and side effects of this particular drug, the announcement is about something more than just the drug itself. Zulresso is the first drug approved for treatment of PPD, a mental state resulting from hormonal changes associated with the perinatal period. While not every woman who gets pregnant experiences PPD, there are more women experiencing it than we know. The CDC has determined that 1 out of every 9 women experience symptoms of PPD.
Disclosure: This is not an advertisement and not intended to be medical advice, if you are interested in learning more about this drug, please consult with your Doctor or medical professional.
Imagine, you just experienced one of the most amazing life changing events of your life. You just gave birth to a baby. Whether it’s your first or fifth… it’s a huge life event. This should be one of the happiest moments of your life! Bonding with your baby is supposed to be magical. But then darkness settles in. Thoughts that you have never experienced before, nor that you ever thought you would experience, start clouding your mind. Emotions may range from deep sadness, hopelessness, dread, anxiousness, obsessive compulsiveness, to suicidal ideation. It’s scary. If you haven’t been through it personally you may not quite understand what it is like to experience this. You have no control over your mind. How do I know? I experienced it. And it hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like I was being drowned by scary thoughts. Luckily I never wanted to hurt the baby or myself; however, some women do. This is serious.
With Zulresso’s approval brings awareness and hope. A new recognition that postpartum depression is real and needs to be addressed. Does this mean that every postpartum woman is going through something like this? No. But because it isn’t spoken about very often, it can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, isolation and embarrassment. Zulresso has received some negative feedback as some people believe that it is drugging women and not addressing the diagnosis at hand. As someone who experienced moderate PPD it is important to point out that you do not have control. And while I never experienced postpartum psychosis, which resembles bipolar disorder, there are women who do. We now have a treatment for those that do not respond to talk therapy, traditional antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. When I first started working with my psychologist she would ask me if I recognized that my thoughts were irrational. My response was “yes, I understand that they are irrational, but I cannot control them.” I refused to take medication for about 2 months or so. I had never experienced something like this before and I knew it would have to end at some point. But it didn’t. And I finally took medication and within two weeks the cloud started to lift and I started to feel like myself again. It felt great. You see, with PPD there isn’t necessarily an event that causes these thoughts and feelings, the hormones do. This new medication may not be a one-size fits-all; however, it could possibly be the intervention needed to combat these hormones when health and safety become a concern. The fact that is drug was developed and now exists is one step in the right direction for PPD awareness.
Lisa Grossman, RN, BSN, PHN, OCN, CLC, CLE owns South Bay Baby Care, Inc.
Lisa Grossman is a Registered Nurse with experience working in the Adult ICU, as a Research Nurse on Clinical Drug Trials and the Mother/Baby Unit. She is the owner of South Bay Baby Care and provides private in-home care and education based services in the areas of postpartum recovery, newborn care, breastfeeding and CPR.