Postpartum depression drug aimed at prioritizing maternal health, especially in communities of color

Denise Dador Image
Tuesday, August 8, 2023
Postpartum depression drug is aimed at prioritize maternal health
A new drug for postpartum depression seeks to prioritize maternal health, especially in communities of color.

A new drug for postpartum depression seeks to prioritize maternal health, especially in communities of color.

Women's health advocates say it could also reduce deaths associated with the severe form of this condition. Now, a local comedian is sharing her inspiring journey following a severe case of postpartum depression and what this newly-approved medication can offer new mothers.

"I pushed out my daughter and I said I made a mistake," joked Angelina Spicer during one of her standup specials.

Comedy is about working through trauma and Spicer's hilarious observations during her sets connect deeply with many women because of her experience with postpartum depression.

"As soon as my daughter was delivered I felt a rush of worry, fear, anxiety, panic, and pretty much like I was just not prepared," she said.

The severe depression following the birth of her daughter in 2015 led Spicer to an in-hospital psychiatric stay. A grim time, she can now make jokes about during her routine.

"You need to check into a hospital. And my first thought was 'Can I sleep there?" she said.

Spicer found healing through comedy, medical care and therapy. She became an accidental activist, as she calls herself, who fights for the one in seven new moms battling severe postpartum depression. Many are women of color.

"Black women are actually three times more likely to develop postpartum depression and anxiety than our white counterparts. And we are not treated," she said.

"This is severe interference with functioning," said Cedars-Sinai clinical psychologist Eynav Accortt, PhD.

Now for the first time, the FDA has approved Zuranolone, a fast acting oral tablet, that in clinical trials showed to improve PPD symptoms within three days and last up to 45 days.

"They showed safety and efficacy. This is an amazingly wonderful drug option for new mothers," Accortt said, adding that current SSRI antidepressant treatment can take up to three weeks to work.

"When you are pregnant or postpartum every day is critically important for you to bond with your newborn," said Accortt.

Whether it's safe to breastfeed while on Zuranolone still needs study. Reported Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness. A small price, Spicer said, for the benefits it can provide.

Spicer hopes the introduction of this new medication will help reduce stigma, improve screening and encourage more people to seek treatment. All part of California legislation she and her "Spicey Moms" support community helped pass. With her Pink Bus, she takes her empowering brand of advocacy on the road.

"We meet with moms, we entertain moms and also connect them to care," she said.

Spicer said her comedy opens up the conversation and inspires women to take charge of the postpartum depression narrative

"Now we also have a pill to go with it. I'm so excited." said Spicer.