A very common condition (1 in 9) that will dramatically affect a new mother, her baby and her family is Post-Partum Depression (PPD).  The risk increases by 20 fold if the mother has had any depressive episodes in the past.  This is much more than the very normal “Baby Blues” that most women (80%) feel to some degree up to 2 weeks after delivery.  PPD diagnosis is defined differently by different organizations, but is generally accepted as present based on a brief screening questionnaire showing significant symptoms for over a month.  Typical symptoms of PPD include feeling helpless, being overwhelmed, and trouble caring for the baby — which is more severe than that expected from typical sleep deprivation and ordinary anxiety.

This is more serious than routine counseling and regular antidepressants can help, although they are important to consider in the treatment plan.  Often, the mother does not recognize her own irritability and intense moods while trying so hard to do a good job.  Sometimes it is hard to get a busy new mom to seek help since she may avoid family and friends while trying to do her best.  Self harm, harm to the baby, and suicide are the complications we are trying to avoid.

Zulresso is a brand new, extremely expensive medication ($40,000 for infusion and hospital stay ) that comes in an IV form and is required to be infused over 2.5 days in the hospital.  Good news is that most insurances (Anthem, Aetna, United, Harvard Pilgrim) are covering the cost of treatment.  It has been developed as a one time infusion to be given within 6 months of delivery.  It has some side effects such as low blood pressure which require close monitoring.  The great news is that 70% of patients return to normal after the infusion.  With any new medicine on the market, there may be as yet unknown brain or body side effects   So as always, proceed with great caution.

Click here to download the questionnaire for you or someone you know who is struggling within 6 months of delivery.  This quick and simple screen will identify  those who should be evaluated and offered some help for psychological well-being.
Currently, the only nearby location to obtain this IV med is at Women & Infants in Providence, RI.  There is a financial assistance program through the drug company which allows more women access to this potentially life-saving medication.  Request an appointment with me or your Obstetrician to assess your psychological well-being, if you qualify on the questionnaire for post- partum depression.