The Institute of Behavioral Science at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in New York, led by Dr. Kristina Deligiannidis, has found promising results from a new drug designed to relieve the symptoms of postpartum depression.
The drug was developed by a team of medical scientists from Sage Therapeutics and Biogen. The researchers recruited postpartum women for a phase III clinical trial that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Many women experience symptoms of postpartum depression. Suicidal ideation and thoughts, along with extreme fatigue and low mood, are possible side effects. Previous studies have shown that as many as one in seven new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Zulresso is the only treatment option, but it must be given intravenously over the course of three days, making it infeasible for most new mothers.
Zuranolone, the therapy developed by the research team, is a pill that patients take for an extended period of time, usually 15 days. The drug is a steroid, not an antidepressant, and it helps people with depression by restoring normal neuronal activity to networks that regulate mood and behavior. After two weeks, the patient stops taking them and continues to follow up with their doctor.
Researchers recruited 170 women who had recently given birth and were diagnosed with severe postpartum depression to test the drug’s efficacy. Each participant was randomly assigned to receive either the drug or a placebo.
All of the study participants’ symptoms improved, but only those who took the drug also reported a significant improvement, and only those women saw those improvements persist for an additional four to six weeks.