In August 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first postpartum depression pill, and now doctors are prescribing it to patients.

Postpartum depression is a mental health condition that typically impacts mothers after giving birth. Mayo Clinic explained that it is common for mothers to experience postpartum “baby blues” after childbirth. Symptoms of “baby blues” are mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and trouble sleeping. However, “baby blues” fade after the first few days or two weeks. Postpartum depression can be more severe and long-lasting.

While it’s easy to mistake “baby blues” for postpartum depression, there are distinguishable factors that separate the two. The severity of postpartum depression can interfere with a mother’s ability to care for their newborn and handle other daily tasks. Within the first few weeks after giving birth, a person typically experiences symptoms. However, they can potentially begin sooner, during pregnancy or up to a year after childbirth, according to Mayo Clinic. Severe mood swings, isolation, low energy, irritability, hopelessness and more are signs of the mental health condition.

For Black women, research has proven that they are more likely to experience postpartum depression than any other racial group. Women experiencing postpartum depression were usually offered antidepressant pills. In more cases, the only other available option was an injection. However, the lack of accessibility and the health risks of excessive sedation and sudden loss of consciousness made the treatment less appealing.

Zuranolone (brand name: Zurzuvae) is now available as an option for women dealing with the symptoms of postpartum depression. Here’s everything you need to know about the pill.

How Does Zuranolone Work?

Patients take Zuranolone by mouth once a day for two weeks alongside a “fatty meal.” It is a neuroactive steroid that quickly works to rebalance and manage emotional states. Biogen, a pharmaceutical company producing Zuranolone, published a press release explaining the medication’s responsibilities.

“Zuranolone targets brain networks responsible for functions such as mood, arousal, behavior and cognition,” the release read.

What Are The Side Effects Of Zuranolone?

According to the FDA, the most common side effects are drowsiness, dizziness, diarrhea, fatigue, common cold and urinary tract infections. The FDA also warns that taking this medication can impact a person’s ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. The FDA recommends participating in those types of activities 12 hours after taking Zuranolone.

Other common side effects include headache, lower back or side pain, unusual weakness, trouble breathing and more.

How To Get Zuranolone?

Since its approval in August 2023, Zuranolone was unavailable for prescription until December. Physicians are recently starting to write prescriptions for patients to receive at their local pharmacies and drugstores. A psychiatrist must prescribe the pills for patients to receive the medication. 

Zuranolone’s availability may vary depending on the area. Some physicians may hesitate to prescribe the recently approved drug until more research is revealed about its impact on patients.