Depression is a complex psychological disorder that can affect mood, appetite and sleep. Although we’re probably nowhere near a be-all and end-all cure and may never be, a small mid-stage study reveals that a new drug from Sage Therapeutics Inc. can alleviate symptoms of severe postpartum depression (PPD) in seven out of 10 patients.
PPD is a form of “baby blues” that affects approximately one in seven women and can hinder their ability to care for their baby and themselves. If the depression becomes severe enough, these women can experience thoughts of harming themselves and their babies, as well as severe anxiety and panic attacks.
As of now, standard antidepressants and psychotherapy are common treatment options as there are none that specifically target the disorder.
The new data was gained from 21 patients and reveals a significant reduction in PPD symptoms after 60 hours in those that took the drug, SAGE-547, compared to those that took a placebo. The team utilized the standard depression scale used in clinical research to gauge these reductions.
Despite the preliminary nature of the results, they are promising because standard antidepressants take around four-to-six weeks to take effect, making SAGE-547 a particularly promising treatment method.
“So the rapid onset of response of this drug is unlike anything else available in the field,” said trial investigator Samantha Meltzer-Brody. “This is potentially one of the most important clinical findings in the pharmacologic treatment of postpartum depression to date.”
Patients in the trial were selected based on the presence of a major depressive episode that began in their life no earlier than the third trimester and no later than the first four weeks after delivery of the baby. In additional, they were required to enroll within six months following delivery.
No significant negative reactions to the drug were observed, although larger trials will need to be conducted to determine if these positive results will also be observed in a larger group of patients.