Tune in to Focus Carolina during morning, noon and evening drive times and on the weekends to hear stories from faculty members at UNC and find out what ignites their passion for their work. Focus Carolina is an exclusive program on 97.9 The Hill WCHL, sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Samantha Meltzer-Brody is dedicated to investigating new treatment options for postpartum depression.

“Almost everyone knows someone who has been impacted by a maternal mental health issue,” Dr. Meltzer-Brody says. “Whether it’s ourselves, our mothers, our sisters, our aunts, wives, husbands and maternal mental health affects at least one in nine women, postpartum depression being the most prevalent and that’s approximately 10 to 15% of all women that give birth.”

Dr. Meltzer-Brody says it has been a rewarding experience to try and intervene with moms and families to help prevent postpartum depression, a major complication of childbirth.

“One of the things we’ve been able to do is work on novel clinical trial drug development for the last five years. It’s been a really exciting time for us.

“I’ve had the privilege of serving as the academic principal investigator of the clinical trials of brexanolone, and this approval is likely to change the way postpartum depression is treated for women with severe symptoms.

Listen to part one of the interview with Dr. Meltzer-Brody:

Dr. Melzer-Brody’s team has also developed a smartphone app that warns women about postpartum depression.

In partnership with Apple, the PPD Act app asks women about their clinical experience with postpartum depression and for DNA sample via a spit kit. The app is free to download.

“We have had thousands of women across the country participate,” Dr. Melzter-Brody says, “and we’ve had more than 3,500 DNA samples that have come in via a spit kit and these are now being contributed to an international consortium that is actively studying the genetic marker for postpartum depression.

“This has been a large team effort with the departments of psychiatry and genetics and a huge team of collaborators. To date, we have identified over 15,000 cases of women with postpartum depression around the world and we are now working toward a large scale postpartum depression, genome-wide association study.”

Listen to part two of the interview with Dr. Meltzer-Brody: