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What you need to know about Zurzuvae, the new postpartum depression treatment

Zurzuvae (zuranolone) is approved to treat postpartum depression (PPD). Zuranolone is a neuroactive steroid that acts as an antidepressant. It is the first and only oral treatment available to specifically treat PPD. It is available as a 50-mg tablet taken once a day for 14 days, which is exciting because other depression drugs used for PPD can take 2-4 weeks to begin working and are usually taken for 9-12 months. Zuranolone works faster than other existing methods to treat PPD and continues to work after a person stops taking it.

Postpartum depression is the most common health problem of pregnancy. Up to one in five mothers will experience postpartum depression. Like other types of depression, people with PPD may have the following symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feelings of sadness, guilt, and worthlessness
  • Reduced ability to feel pleasure
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble learning new things, focusing, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty connecting with your baby
  • Thoughts of harming oneself or the baby
  • Suicidal thoughts

How does zuranolone work?

Zuranolone is a lab-created form of allopregnanolone thought to help improve mood and treat PPD. Allopregnanolone is a form of progesterone that helps lower anxiety and the symptoms of depression. Low levels of it after birth may be linked to PPD symptoms. 

How is it different from other treatments for PPD?

Zulresso (brexanolone) is the only other existing treatment specifically for PPD. The intravenous therapy takes over 60 hours and requires a hospital stay of two and a half days. Other depression drugs don’t usually work as fast or target PPD and can take months to show improvement.

What are its side effects?

Drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, and fatigue are the most common side effects of zuranolone. The treatment has an FDA box warning about the risk of impaired driving or attention while on the medication.

Is it safe to take while breastfeeding?

Study participants were asked to stop breastfeeding while part of the study. So, the effects on breast milk, a nursing baby, or changes in milk production are unknown. Talk to your provider about whether breastfeeding while taking zuranolone is right for you. 

Will insurance cover zuranolone?

As with most new drugs, some companies may pay for them, and others will not. Check with your insurance provider and ask if they will cover this drug before it is prescribed to you to avoid unnecessary costs. 

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