Postpartum depression (PPD) remains the most common complication in modern obstetrics, and ain the first year of life. The last 15 years have brought considerable progress with respect to adoption of systematic screening for PPD across America. Screening for PPD, most often using the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), has become part of routine obstetrical care, and is also widely used in pediatric settings.
That is the good news. But the flip side of the identification of those women whose scores on the EPDS suggest significant depressive symptoms is that the number of these patients who, following identification, receive referrals for adequate treatment that gets them well is. This “perinatal treatment cascade” refers to the majority of women who, on the other side of identification of PPD, fail to receive adequate treatment and continue to have persistent depression (Cox E. et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2016 Sep;77: ). This is perhaps the greatest challenge to the field and to clinicians – how do we, on the other side of screening, see that these women get access to care and get well with the available treatments at hand?
Recently, awas published in The Wall Street Journal about the challenges associated with navigating care resources for women suffering from PPD. In that article, it was made clear, based on clinical vignette after clinical vignette from postpartum women across America, that neither obstetricians, mental health professionals, nor pediatricians are the “clinical home” for women suffering from postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. The article painfully highlights the system-wide failure to coordinate mental health care for women suffering from postpartum psychiatric illness.
Within a day of the publication of The Wall Street Journal article, the Food and Drug Administration(Zurzuvae; Sage Therapeutics; Cambridge, Mass.) for the treatment of PPD following the review of two studies demonstrating the superiority of the new medicine over placebo. Women who were enrolled met criteria for major depressive disorder based on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria beginning in no earlier than the third trimester of pregnancy or later than 4 weeks of delivery. The two studies included a combined sample size of approximately 350 patients suffering from severe PPD. In the studies, women received either 50 mg or 40 mg of zuranolone, or placebo for 14 days. with a significant change in the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale at day 15, and was maintained at day 42, which was 4 weeks after the last dose of study medication.
Zuranolone is a neuroactive steroid, which is taken orally, unlike brexanolone (Zulresso; Sage Therapeutics; Cambridge, Mass.), which requires intravenous administration. Zuranolone will be commercially available based on estimates around the fourth quarter of 2023. The most common side effects are drowsiness, dizziness, and sedation, and the FDA label will have aabout zuranolone’s potential to impact a person’s driving ability, and performance of potentially hazardous activities.
It is noteworthy that while this new medication received FDA approval for the PPD indication, it did not receive FDA approval for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), and the agency issued a