Postpartum Depression or “PPD” can have a negative impact not only on new moms but on their babies as well.

A new study may provide answers on how to best treat the disorder. 

Postpartum Depression is one of the most common medical complications of childbirth.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody is a Professor and Director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program with the Center for Women’s Mood Disorders at UNC Chapel Hill.

She says PPD is more serious than a case of the Baby Blues.  In fact, she says the Baby Blues are normal, emotional changes, but PPD is a major depressive disorder which needs to be correctly diagnosed and treated. 

 “Common symptoms can be feeling very low, having the blues, sadness, not enjoying the baby.  Some women are very anxious and may have ruminating thoughts, may have difficulty functioning.  At worst, women may have thoughts of wanting to hurt themselves or suicidal thoughts and more rarely thoughts of wanting to hurt the child.”

 She adds women who develop PPD may be more vulnerable to normal hormonal changes from pregnancy into postpartum.

“We know a past history of a mood disorder or depression puts someone at greater risk.  Earlier lifetime trauma may also increase risk but the hormonal changes that happen, it may be some women are more genetically at risk as well.”

 A new investigational medicine could change how postpartum depression is treated.

  “Brexanolone is very different than currently available treatments and has a very fast, rapid onset of action so at UNC, we’ve been part of clinical trials for years. This onset of action is within 24 hours of treatment.  Women get a 60 hour injection, so less  than 3 days and a majority of women had very positive responses.”

 Dr.  Meltzer-Brody says the FDA is reviewing Brexanolone as a specifically developed medicine for Postpartum Depression.  She hopes the treatment will be one more option for women who suffer
from PPD. 

The FDA is expected to make a decision on the treatment by the end of the year.

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