Treatment resistant depression is when you have been treated for depression and your symptoms haven’t improved. Going to psychological counseling and/or taking an antidepressant usually eases depression symptoms for most people. However, for those who suffer from treatment-resistant depression, standardized treatments are not enough. Your symptoms can improve but they continuously keep coming back. Then for some, they have basically no improvement whatsoever.

If your primary care doctor has been prescribing you antidepressants and your depression has not improved, as your doctor does, you can see a health care provider who specializes in mental health conditions, such as a psychiatrist.

A psychiatrist will review your entire medical history, discuss treatment resistant depression with you, consider, and ask:

  • Inquire about your life situations that may be causing depression
  • Evaluating responses to current treatments 
  • Going over medications you take
  • Ensuring your medications are being taken as prescribed and you are following through with all other treatments 
  • Looking into any physical health issues that may be adding to or causing your depression
  • Considering a mental health disorder diagnosis 

Treatment-resistant depression symptoms can take numerous amount of approaches to identify what helps and can range from mild to severe.

treatment resistant depression

Medication Strategies

You shouldn’t lose hope if you’ve tried medication and it didn’t work for you. Some people have treatment resistant depression. There are some factors when it comes to medication, such as the right dose and medication combinations. Plus it just may not be the medication right for you, there are many more medications out there that might be a better fit. Here are some medication options that your doctor may decide to discuss with you:

  • Considering getting pharmacogenetical tested (to see if you have certain genes that affect your body metabolizes medications or how depression may be affecting you)
  • Increasing your medication dose (if the doctor approves of doing this)
  • Switching to a different antidepressant
  • Adding medications that may be used for off-label reasons 
  • Taking additional medications to treat depression
  • Giving medication more time to work

Psychological Counseling

For a lot of people, psychotherapy combined with medication will work the best for treatment resistant depression. This can be done through a psychiatrist, psychologist, or mental health professional by attending psychological counseling. This is helpful in identifying underlying concerns that may be contributing to your depression. By working with your therapist you can learn specific behaviors and ways to overcome your depression. Psychotherapy can help you:

  • Deal with past emotional trauma
  • Find better ways to cope with life’s challenges
  • Learn how to reduce the effects of stress in your life
  • Address substance use issues
  • Manage relationships in a healthier way

Talk to your psychotherapist if counseling doesn’t seem helpful, so they can try a different approach. They may need to come up with other options if you have treatment resistant depression. You can also consider seeing someone else as well. With medications, it may take several tries to find a treatment that works. Psychotherapy for depression can include the following:

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family or marital therapy
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Mindfulness
  • Behavioral activation
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy

Procedures to Treat Depression

You might want to speak to a psychiatrist about other treatment resistant depression treatments if the medications and/or psychotherapy aren’t working. Here are possible additional treatment options:

  • Ketamine
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation or rTMS
  • Vagus nerve stimulation or VNS
  • Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT

These are all treatments that aren’t heard of as often. However, there are many doctors and treatment centers that might prescribe these for people with moderate to severe depression. 

Other Steps You Can Take

It’s best to try to get the most out of your treatment resistant depression treatments. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your treatment:

  • Stick with your treatment plan. Don’t skip therapy sessions or appointments. Even if you feel well, don’t stop taking your medications. If you feel like your medication isn’t the right fit for you, speak with your doctor. 
  • Stop using drugs and/or drinking. Many people with depression tend to self-medicate. They feel they are helping when they do this, but really they are making their depression and problems worse. If you cannot stop drinking or using drugs it’s important to talk to your doctor or mental health care professional.
  • Manage stress. Finding better ways to cope and manage stress helps decrease depression. Stress-related issues can be relationship issues, financial issues, unhappy work situations, and many more. Yoga, tai chi, meditation, exercising, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, or journaling are all positive ways to help manage stress.
  • Sleep well. Not having adequate amounts of sleep or sleeping too much can worsen depression. It’s important to have a well-balanced amount of sleep. It can affect your mood, energy level, as well as your ability to concentrate. It also can decrease your resilience to stress. If you have issues with sleeping, research ways to improve your sleep or talk with your doctor about how you can manage your sleep better.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercising has a big impact on mood. Any physical activity such as walking or gardening can reduce a good amount of stress. It also can help improve sleep and lessen depression symptoms.

It’s important to be involved in your mental health treatment plan in order to help manage your depression. Work with your doctor and/or other mental health professionals to help find the best treatments possible for your success. It might take time and effort to try new approaches, but don’t be discouraged, look at it as a journey towards the best of you.

Get Help from Harmony Recovery Center Today

Here at Harmony Recovery Center, we help people find success in treating both their mental health illnesses and/or substance abuse disorders. We offer many treatment plans and programs to help individualize what is needed to help pursue a path of full recovery.

We are located in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Contact us today, to learn more about what we have to offer for treatment resistant depression.

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