LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Emotional difficulties are common during the three months following childbirth. Postpartum (after-birth) depression affects 10 to 15 percent of women within three months following birth. Typical symptoms include sadness, irritability, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, inability to sleep despite exhaustion, lack of concentration and suicidal thoughts.

    The University of Louisville is currently conducting a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health for the treatment of postpartum depression. Led by Dr. Katherine L. Wisner, the study is a part of the U of L School of Medicine’s Women’s Mental HealthCARE program.

    Women who participate in the study will receive either the antidepressant nortriptyline (Pamelor) or the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft). Both drugs are effective for the treatment of depression and are acceptable for use in breastfeeding women. The study will compare treatment response between the two drugs to determine which is better for use in women with postpartum depression. All participants will receive weekly monitoring for depressive symptoms over the course of eight weeks and continuing treatment for 24 weeks.

    “Pregnant and postpartum women are generally under treated for depression,” Wisner said. “Our goal is to help our patients and their doctors determine the best course of treatment for postpartum depression — a potentially debilitating condition for many new mothers.”

    Women are eligible to take part in the study if they are 18 to 45 years old; started having depression, anxiety or sleep problems within four weeks of childbirth; gave birth to a child/children three months or less before entering the study; are medically healthy; and will be in the Louisville area for at least 24 weeks after entering the trial.

    Potential patients or referring physicians may contact the U of L Women’s Mental HealthCARE program at (502) 852-5541 for enrollment information.