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FDA approves first pill to treat postpartum depression

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zurzuvae, the first pill to treat postpartum depression, last Friday.

According to the National Institute of Health, postpartum depression occurs after childbirth when a mother experiences a varied range of extreme emotions. These emotions tend to last a long time and can severely affect a mother’s ability to return to their regular functions. According to the National Library of Medicine, nearly one in seven women develop postpartum depression.

“Postpartum depression is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which women experience sadness, guilt, worthlessness – even, in severe cases, thoughts of harming themselves or their child,” Tiffany Farchione, director of the Division of Psychiatry in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a press release. “Because postpartum depression can disrupt the maternal-infant bond, it can also have consequences for the child’s physical and emotional development.”

[Related: FDA approves first over-the-counter birth control pill in U.S.]

Zurzuvae is an oral prescription treatment for postpartum depression in adults. The drug is classified as an antidepressant and should be taken once daily over the course of fourteen days, according to Biogen, the company that developed Zurzuvae.

Previously, postpartum depression has been treated through psychotherapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation – which uses magnetic waves to stimulate nerve cells in the brain – and pharmacotherapy. According to NBC, Zurzuvae is a preferable treatment because it will help to alleviate symptoms faster than other forms of treatment.

“Having access to an oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women coping with extreme, and sometimes life-threatening, feelings,” Farchione said in the press release.

Zurzuvae is expected to become commercially available as a prescription in the fourth quarter of this year.

[Related: FDA fully approves first drug to slow down the effects of Alzheimer's disease]

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