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Dr. Nancy Byatt on the New Postpartum Depression Pill

Date Posted: Wednesday, August 09, 2023

woman holding newborn and kissing it on the headAs a leading expert in perinatal and maternal mental health, Dr. Nancy Byatt, Executive Director of the Lifeline for Families Center and Lifeline for Moms, an iSPARC research program, has recently been interviewed by a number of publications discussing the new FDA-approved postpartum depression pill Zuranolone. 

In an interview with Scientific America, "For the first time, we have a fast-acting medication for postpartum depression that patients can conveniently take by mouth,” says Nancy Byatt, a perinatal psychiatrist at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, who was not involved in developing the drug. “This is a major addition to our toolbox and will hopefully spark more conversations about the stigma new parents face when seeking mental health care.”

Byatt notes that low-income parents face higher risks of postpartum depression and greater barriers to receiving care, which underscores the need to make Zuranolone affordable. She says that conversations about the drug’s pricing connect to larger questions about how we can build support systems for new parents who are shouldering the immense demands of childcare.

“When it comes to improving parental health care, it’s like a million-piece puzzle that includes having a rapid-acting medication for postpartum depression. But it also includes destigmatizing mental health care for new parents, increasing access to individual and group therapy, and having regular follow-up appointments in the postpartum period,” Byatt says. “Zuranolone is a great piece to the puzzle. It’s not a panacea.” 

Speaking to The Boston Globe: "Intrusive and suicidal thoughts are common features of postpartum depression, but mothers seldom act on them, particularly by harming a baby, according to Dr. Nancy Byatt, a psychiatry professor at UMass Chan Medical School.  

Although Byatt welcomed a fast-acting pill for postpartum depression, she said that fewer than a quarter of women with depression during pregnancy or in the year after childbirth can get an initial appointment with a mental health provider. 

“Is it a game changer?” Byatt said of a pill that can be taken at home. “It’s only a game changer to the extent that people can access it.” 

Recent Articles featuring Dr. Byatt on the New Postpartum Depression Pill:

About Dr. Nancy Byatt, DO, MS,MBA, FACLP

professional headshot of a blonde woman smiling wearing a grey suitDr. Byatt is a perinatal psychiatrist with the Women's Mental Health Center at UMass Memorial Medical Center, Executive Director of the Lifeline for Families Center and Lifeline for Moms, an iSPARC research program, Medical Director of Research for MCPAP, and a tenured professor of psychiatry, ob/gyn, and population & quantitative health sciences at UMass Chan Medical School.

Dr. Byatt’s research focuses on designing, implementing, and evaluating scalable interventions that aim to improve parental and child mental health services and outcomes. With more than 10 years of continuous federal funding for her research, her achievements have led to:
        ▪ More than 90 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters
        ▪ More than 250 presentations
        ▪ Numerous national awards

Her passion is increasing access to mental health care. Her mission is to redefine health care to include mental health care.