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Seeing new moms fully: How we're redefining ways to treat postpartum depression

Up to 20 percent of all women giving birth will develop postpartum depression (PPD), with 40 to 80 percent of them experiencing moderate to severe PPD or other perinatal psychiatric disorders. 

At Northwell Health, we are working to erase the stigma of PPD by treating women with options that are right for them.

quotation mark I would like to tell the women out there, ‘It’s OK. You’re OK. And, you’re not alone.'
Tamara Oliver

Offering a place for comprehensive PPD treatment

In 2016, Zucker Hillside Hospital opened a women-only inpatient unit for perinatal psychiatric disorders, the first of its kind in New York State. This welcoming environment features a specially trained interdisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers and rehabilitation therapists. 

Tamara Oliver, the mother of triplets, attended the opening of the inpatient unit. She was treated in Zucker Hillside’s outpatient program after her children’s birth. Working with her physician, Tamara came to understand that her feelings of hopelessness and sadness were valid and treatable. That’s exactly the point she wants to share with other women suffering from these disorders.

“I would like to tell the women out there, ‘It’s OK. You’re OK. And, you’re not alone.'”

The unit is overseen by Kristina M. Deligiannidis, MD, director of Women’s Behavioral Health at Zucker Hillside Hospital and an associate professor at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

Finding a drug therapy specifically for PPD

Dr. Deligiannidis and her colleagues are finding better ways to treat PPD through innovative drug therapy. Their groundbreaking study, published in The Lancet in August 2018, found that a brexanolone injection reduced depressive symptoms in women suffering from moderate and severe PPD. 

Approved by the Food and Drug Administration, this injection will help alleviate suffering – as the first medication specifically for the treatment of PPD. 

“PPD is often treated with antidepressants that are approved for the treatment of depression not linked to childbirth,” explains Dr. Deligiannidis. “It can take several weeks for women to feel better once a traditional antidepressant is started, with many women not achieving adequate symptom relief.” Because postpartum depression is different, there is a need for specialized PPD treatment. “The findings of our new analysis are promising — and we hope our work will lead to a new treatment option for moderate to severe PPD.”

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