Is My Depression Treatment-Resistant or Have I Just Not Found the Right Treatment Yet?
04.11.2022

Depression is common, but depression symptoms do not present the same in everyone, nor does everyone respond the same way to treatment. Some people may find that the first medication they take relieves their depression symptoms, whereas other people may need to try a few different treatments to find one that works. In some cases, people may live with treatment-resistant depression, which can make them feel as if nothing can work. If your depression symptoms have not improved, do not give up and assume that you cannot find relief. It might just be that you haven’t found the correct treatment. 

Below, learn how to identify treatment-resistant depression, as well as what you can do to alleviate depression symptoms when things just don’t seem to be getting better. In some cases, you may need to explore different treatment options before finding something that works. 

What Is Treatment-Resistant Depression?

According to a report in American Family Physician, as many as two-thirds of people with depression do not experience adequate symptom relief with the first antidepressant medication they try. This does not mean that their depression is treatment-resistant because it is rather normal to have to try various different treatments before settling on the one that is most effective. 

On the other hand, clinicians may label a person’s depression as treatment-resistant if they have tried two different medications, and neither has been effective for reducing depression symptoms. While failing to respond to medication may indicate treatment-resistant depression in the clinical sense, this doesn’t mean that your depression symptoms truly cannot be treated. Sometimes, you may need to explore other options. 

While treatment-resistant depression falls under the umbrella of major depressive disorder, the difference is that patients with the treatment-resistant version don’t seem to experience relief with the usual treatment methods. Despite taking adequate doses of effective antidepressant medications, symptoms like sadness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, loss of interest in activities, and changes in sleeping and eating habits do not improve. 

Certain factors place a person at higher risk of treatment-resistant depression. For example, this form of depression is more common among individuals with severe depression, as well as among individuals with psychotic symptoms, anxiety, and a history of taking more antidepressants, according to research. Treatment-resistant depression may be a more severe presentation that simply requires alternative treatment. 

Alternative Treatments for Treatment-Resistant Depression 

When someone does not find the relief they’re seeking after trying at least two antidepressant medications, it is time to reassess the situation. A doctor may talk with the patient to ensure that they are taking their medication properly, such as remembering to take the medication daily. If a patient has been taking their medication, as prescribed, and two different antidepressants have not been effective, alternative treatment options may provide relief. 

One option for patients who live with treatment-resistant depression is to attend therapy, instead of or in addition to taking medication. While therapy can be effective for some cases of depression, the research suggests that this is not always the best option for those with treatment-resistant depression. For instance, a review of 21 different studies found that psychotherapy was no more effective than treatment-as-usual (TAU) for depression cases that were resistant to treatment. The combination of medication and therapy may be more effective than therapy alone, as the same review found that adding therapy to TAU was moderately effective. 

For patients who do not respond to therapy and medication, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an option. Studies have shown that ECT is both cost-effective and beneficial for cases of treatment-resistant depression. As a result, experts have recommended that clinicians consider treating patients with ECT after two unsuccessful attempts to relieve depression symptoms with therapy and/or medication. One downfall of ECT, despite its effectiveness, is that this procedure requires patients to be placed under anesthesia while medical professionals electrically stimulate the brain. 

TMS for Treatment-Resistant Depression

While ECT may be beneficial for people who have cases of treatment-resistant depression, the reality is that it can be invasive. It requires patients to be placed under anesthesia, which can interfere with daily routines. For those who find ECT to be too invasive, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a suitable alternative.  TMS is non-invasive, and it involves the use of a device that is placed against the head to send small electromagnetic pulses to areas of the brain that are involved in mood regulation. 

Multiple studies have demonstrated that TMS is both safe and effective for treating cases of treatment-resistant depression. Research has also shown that TMS is especially effective when used alongside medications, so you may achieve the most benefit by continuing to take your antidepressant medications. What this means is that your depression may not truly be treatment-resistant; you might simply need to try a new treatment, and TMS is a promising option. 

Seeking Treatment at Pulse TMS

For those looking for depression treatment in the Southern California area, Pulse TMS is located in Los Angeles, and we offer TMS services to those with treatment-resistant depression. We are the leading TMS provider in the West Los Angeles and Santa Barbara area, and we aim to provide patients with long-term relief from depression symptoms. If you’ve tried several treatment modalities for depression, and your symptoms aren’t improving, contact us today to learn how TMS services can benefit you. 

If you’re unsure of whether the symptoms you’re experiencing are indicative of depression, take our brief self-assessment here. These assessment results should not take the place of evaluation and treatment from a mental health professional, but they can provide you with a general idea of whether your symptoms align with those seen in cases of depression. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, as indicated by the assessment results, it may be time to reach out for help.

Article By: admin-pulsetms