Thankfully, 2018 has been a truly pivotal point in the conversation of postpartum depression. People are finally opening up about the symptoms of postpartum depression, and how devastating it can be. And it's because of all those doctors and women, and their partners, who are speaking up that so much awareness is being made. This is all fantastic progress, but in all honesty, so many women have been waiting for more to be done. There have been whispers about a new drug, called Brexanolone, as the first ever postpartum depression drug, but it hasn't been approved yet. Well, information has been released from the United States Food and Drug Administration stating that it's getting closer and closer to being approved and could be readily available on the market as early as the beginning of 2019.
Becoming a mom is undoubtedly the hardest job in the world. Not only do we need to worry about tending to a new little one around the clock, mastering breast or bottle feeding, finding the right pediatrician - we have to somehow squeeze in taking care of ourselves into the mix. Bringing that new baby home can be scary and it's crucial to hone in on your new emotions and watch out for postpartum depression signals.
Postpartum depression is defined as "a mood disorder that can affect women after childbirth. Mothers with postpartum depression experience feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that may make it difficult for them to complete daily care activities for themselves or for others" by the National Institue of Mental Health. Treatment for these symptoms would be huge for new moms everywhere.
If you're wondering exactly what Brexanolone is, we all pretty much are. According to Sage Therapeutics, the makers of the drug, it's their lead product candidate and is "an acute interventional treatment for postpartum depression." The therapy, which is administered intravenously, is designed to correct imbalances in GABA signaling within the brain. This injection is a proprietary formulation of allopregnanolone, a naturally-occurring nerve signaling molecule, known to modulate GABA receptor activity.
In laments terms, it's a synthetic form of allopregnanolone, a hormone which increases in women during pregnancy then drops significantly after child birth, given through an injection. Throughout our pregnancies, we have intense hormones raging through us at all times. But right after we give birth, these hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and allopregnanolone decline. The effect on the brain's neurotransmitters is what a lot of people believe is the cause of postpartum depression. Brexanolone will aide in filling that gap from the sudden drop in these hormones.
Brexanolone Academic Principal Investigator Samantha Meltzer-Brody, who is also the director of the Perinatal Psychiatry Program at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, told HuffPost Canada that "the idea that you could potentially have a drug that could have women treated very quickly within days, which is very different than what's currently available would be a paradigm shift that would be extremely exciting for the field. From a women's mental health perspective, that's a big deal."
And yes, we think this is a pretty big deal, too.