Experts from DukeHealth: FDA Assent First Postpartum Depression Drug: a ‘Game-Changer’

FDA has permitted the first medicine for postpartum depression that is a therapy that adds to the allopregnanolone in the brain. 

  • A psychiatrist as well as professor, Dr. Chris Marx says, “Postpartum depression has been in the shadows for so long. There have been no medications specifically targeting postpartum depression, and not a lot of research on what works in the forms of other therapies,”
  • “This drug raises levels of allopregnanolone, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called a neurosteroid. Neurosteroids show tremendous therapeutic promise. Allopregnanolone could be a game-changer, not only for postpartum depression, but also for traumatic brain injury (TBI), schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pain, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions for which new treatments are urgently needed.”
  • “In addition to acting at GABAAreceptors in the brain, allopregnanolone also decreases inflammation, increases the production of new neurons, protects against stress, decreases pain, and enhances communication between neurons.”
  • “Once administered through an IV, this new drug only stays in the body for a few hours.”

Chris Marx is the director of the translational neuroscience. He is also the vice chair for faculty at the Duke University School of Medicine.

  •  “There is tremendous stigma around postpartum depression for women. Many women experience great shame and feel inadequate as mothers if they struggle with depression at a time that is supposed to be joyous,” Marla F. Wald, who is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst at Duke, says.
  • “Many women choose to not seek help and endure great suffering in silence. Postpartum depression affects 15 to 20 percent of the general population, and at least half of this group goes untreated. As more targeted treatments like this become available, more mothers are likely to seek and benefit from treatment.”
  •  “Being able to get this treatment in a couple of days would allow the mother to quickly return to care for her baby. This is much faster than waiting for the onset of conventional antidepressants for two weeks or more. It allows the mother to be more physically and emotionally available and attuned to her baby.”