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New treatment for postpartum depression comes with a steep cost

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A mother holds her newborn baby girl in Miami, Fla.
A mother holds her newborn baby girl as her husband watches, hours after the baby was born in Miami, Fla.
Roberto Schmidt | AFP | Getty Images 2006

Next month, the first and only FDA-approved treatment for postpartum depression will hit the market in the U.S. 

It's needed. Up to 1 in 7 women experiences depression after her baby's birth — making it one of the most common complications of pregnancy. 

The drug offers almost immediate relief. Some women reported a mood change in as little as 48 hours — a huge improvement over the current treatment of conventional antidepressants, which can take a month or more to kick in.

But the new drug brings its own set of hurdles. It has to be administered through an IV for 60 continuous hours, and it's estimated to cost $34,000 for one treatment. Will that keep it out of reach for those who need it most?

Often the focus can be on medication. But really, medicine is a symbol of so many other things that are not within a mother's control.

May is Mental Health Month, so on Wednesday, MPR News guest host Tiffany Hanssen talked about this new medication with two Twin Cities doctors who specialize in women's mental health. 

We also took an expansive look at perinatal mood and anxiety conditions that can crop up during pregnancy or even well after the baby is born. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

Guests:
Dr. Elizabeth LaRusso, a psychiatrist with The Mother Baby Center at Allina Health

Dr. Helen Kim, director of the Hennepin Healthcare Mother-Baby Program

This reporting is part of Call To Mind, our MPR initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.

Concerned you might be experiencing a perinatal mood disorder? Help is available.

• The Mother-Baby HopeLine at Hennepin Healthcare Mother-Baby Program: (612) 873-HOPE (4673).

• The Mother-Baby Center has several resources, including support groups.

• Pregnancy and Postpartum Support Minnesota has a helpline: (612) 787-7776.

• Postpartum Support International

• National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota Perinatal Resources