WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Federal health officials approved the first pill specifically intended to treat severe depression after childbirth in early August. It’s a condition that affects thousands of new mothers across the U.S. each year.

The Food and Drug Administration granted approval of the drug, Zurzuvae, for adults experiencing severe depression related to childbirth or pregnancy. The FDA said the pill should be taken once a day for 14 days.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), postpartum depression affects an estimated total of 400,000 people a year.

While it often ends on its own within a couple weeks, it can continue for months or even years for some. Standard treatment includes counseling or antidepressants, which can take weeks to work and may not help everyone suffering from it.  

Dr. Jennifer Keller, an OB-GYN, at The George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. said the new pill is a “game-changer.”

“It’s always great to have lots of options to give patients to help them decide what the best treatment is for them,” she said. “This pill shows that there is an increasing focus on mental health and pregnancy and the importance of this in society and helping people get the care that they need, which it’s not traditionally been something that people have talked about or thought about.”

The medication does have some side effects, including sleepiness and dizziness, according to Keller.

“There’s actually warnings that say don’t drive for 12 hours after taking this medication,” Keller said.” The medicine does come with a warning that it may increase the risk of suicide. That actually wasn’t seen in the studies of this medication.”

This medicine is not necessarily the right choice for every person, Keller said.

“There are studies require that people did not breastfeed while they were taking this medicine,” she said. “There’s lots of unknowns with this medicine and its impact on breastfeeding. So people may choose not to use this medicine because of that.”

Keller said there are other good options for treating postpartum depression that may take a little bit longer, such as traditional medicines like Zoloft and Prozac for treating depression and anxiety.

“There are people who prefer not to use medications and prefer to start with talk therapy and improving their sleep and social support and things like that, which are for generally people with less severe symptoms,” she said.