The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has for the first time authorized a tablet designed to treat postpartum depression, a condition that many women experience after childbirth but which has long been shrouded in taboo.

Sage Therapeutics' Zurzuwe drug is the first oral drug to be used to treat postpartum depression in adults, the agency said in a statement.

Postpartum depression is "a serious and potentially life-threatening condition in which women experience sadness, guilt, and feelings of worthlessness," said Tiffany Farcione, head of the U.S. Drug Agency's Department of Psychiatry.

Every year, about half a million American women experience postpartum depression.

"Access to oral medication will be a beneficial option for many of these women who face extreme, and sometimes even life-threatening, feelings," Farcione said.

According to two studies, patients who received the aforementioned drug showed a significant improvement in symptoms than those who took a placebo.

Authorities recommend taking one 50 milligram tablet every night for 14 days. The cost of the medication has not yet been announced.

Today, about one in eight mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression, and of these, only a quarter are treated, said Asima Ahmad, medical manager at Carrot Fertility.

And while "there are a number of drugs that treat depression, zuranolone (the active ingredient in the aforementioned drug) has faster efficacy and shorter treatment times for postpartum depression than other drugs already available," she said. The Zurzuvae drug can start working after only three days of treatment, she said.

The FDA advises against driving during treatment due to side effects.

Asima Ahmad points out that another drug already exists, Brexanolon, but it requires intravenous injection every 60 hours.


Postpartum depression