Zulresso: First Official Medication for Postpartum Depression

What is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression is a common experience for new mothers after childbirth, and some new fathers. While it is often confused with “baby blues”, overwhelming feelings and stress-related symptoms experienced for a few days or weeks following childbirth, postpartum depression (PPD) is a more serious disorder.

PPD symptoms are often more intense than baby blues and can be significantly debilitating to a caretaker. The disorder can disrupt daily life and interfere with the ability to handle daily responsibilities and caring for the child. Additionally, symptoms may begin during pregnancy or up to a year after the child is born, lasting for weeks to months. Postpartum depression can become a serious and life-threatening condition if left untreated. Symptoms typically include:

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Dramatic changes in appetite
  • Severe mood swings
  • Panic attacks or severe anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness, shame, or inadequacy
  • Trouble bonding with the baby
  • Social withdrawal from family and friends
  • Recurring thoughts of death, suicide, or self-harm

Traditionally, medications for postpartum depression consist of standard antidepressants. While these medications can be effective, they promote dependency and can come with a host of unique and potentially debilitating side effects. There are also additional considerations with breastfeeding. 

New Treatment for PPD

Now, for the first time, there is an FDA-approved medication specifically designed for postpartum depression: Zulresso, also known as brexanolone. In addition to being the only available medication specific to PPD, Zulresso is different from traditional antidepressants in a few key ways.

The medication has proven to be extremely effective in clinical trials, with women showing greater reductions in depression symptoms after treatment compared to placebo. Zulresso is administered over a temporary treatment period and provides lasting, or sometimes permanent, relief to patients. Typically patients see results that last at least 30 days for one treatment session. The treatment is extremely safe, and the most common side effects include dry mouth, sleepiness or loss of consciousness, and flushing of the face and skin.

What Can I Expect During Zulresso Treatment?

At Bespoke Treatment, the entire treatment is administered in our clinic by a health professional certified in the Zulresso Risk Evaluation ad Mitigation Strategy program, and patients are monitored during the entire process. Zulresso is administered intravenously for 60 continuous hours, or 2.5 days. This means patients must dedicate a weekend to remain in the clinic for the entire treatment.

Patients are permitted, and encouraged, to bring their children, but must also bring a caretaker as patient availability to attend to children will be limited during treatment. Patients may feel sleepy during the infusion. A medical professional will check in every 2 hours, and patients should inform the clinician if they feel tired.

Once the infusion is complete, patients can return home that day, but are not permitted to drive a vehicle until all feelings of sleepiness have subsided completely. For this reason, it’s recommended to have a friend, family member, or spouse drive you home.

Just as with our other alternative treatments at Bespoke Treatment, we recommend pairing Zulresso with another therapy to maximize its effectiveness. That is why we create personalized treatment plans for all patients. Instead of assigning a cookie-cutter treatment, we assess your unique needs and build a plan that is designed to treat the whole individual. Treatment plans can include any combination of talk therapies, TMS, ketamine, neurofeedback, and more. To learn more about your treatment options or schedule an evaluation, give us a call or request an appointment online today.

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