BMJ: antidepressant injection 4 times reduced risk of severe postpartum depression

April 11, 2024  17:03

A single low-dose injection of the antidepressant escetamine reduces the risk of severe postnatal depression. This was shown by a study published in the journal BMJ.

Depression is common during pregnancy and the postnatal period. The condition is dangerous for women and their babies. In the new study, scientists tested the antidepressant drug esketamine, which is derived from ketamine and used to anaesthetise and treat depression.

The study involved 361 women (mean age 32) seen at one of five Chinese hospitals between June 2020 and August 2022. The patients had no contraindications to taking esketamine. Half were given an antidepressant intravenously immediately after delivery and half were given a placebo to exclude the effect of self-administration.

Forty-two days after delivery, 12 of 180 (6.7%) women who received esketamine experienced a major depressive episode compared with 46 of 181 (25.4%) in the placebo group. The data mean that one in five women who received esketamine had a major depressive episode prevented.

These results are consistent with previous work investigating the effects of ketamine or esketamine on postpartum depression. However, more research is needed.

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