Treatment-Resistant Depression: How to Tackle It
Depression is a severe mental health condition affecting millions in the United States annually. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fatigue, changes in appetite, insomnia or sleeping too much, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. Depression can make it difficult to function at work or school and can even lead to thoughts of suicide.
While there are many effective treatments for depression, some people do not respond well to traditional therapies, such as medication and talk therapy. Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is a term used to describe depression that does not respond to conventional treatments.
What is Depression?
Depression is a severe medical condition that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act. It causes sadness or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can also lead to various emotional and physical problems and decrease your ability to function at work or home. Several types of depression exist, each with its symptoms.
What Is Treatment-Resistant Depression?
Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) is a type of depression that does not respond well to traditional treatments, such as medication and talk therapy. Some experts refer to TRD as refractory depression or treatment-refractory depression.
TRD is a relatively new term, and there is no agreed-upon definition of what makes up TRD. However, most experts agree that TRD occurs when a person does not respond to at least two antidepressants.
It’s considered a major depressive disorder, which causes severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life.
How Prevalent Is TRD?
Research suggests as much as 30% of the U.S. population with major depressive disorder (MDD) may have TRD.
What Causes TRD?
The exact cause of TRD is unknown, but
What Causes Depression?
There is no single cause of depression. Instead, it is likely caused by genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Also, situations or events that trigger depression, such as the death of a loved one or a job loss, can play a role in its development.
What are the Symptoms of Depression?
Depression can cause a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. These can include:
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleep problems
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Memory problems or
- difficulty concentrating
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
You don’t have to experience all these symptoms to be diagnosed with depression. And the severity of your symptoms can vary.
Traditional Treatments for Depression
There are many effective treatments for depression, including medication, talk therapy, and lifestyle changes.
Antidepressants are the most common type of medication prescribed for depression. These drugs can help improve mood by affecting the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. Most physicians start patients with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed. There are several types of antidepressants, and it may take trial and error to find the one that works best for you.
Unfortunately, it can take several weeks for antidepressants to work. This situation creates a few treatment problems, such as patients becoming impatient and stopping taking their medication before it is effective. Also, many spend weeks or longer with treatments that aren’t working and experience worsening symptoms during this time.
Setbacks can happen with any condition and treatment, but they may be more common and last longer when dealing with TRD. These delays are one reason treatment-resistant depression is such a problem. The sooner a person with depression can start an effective treatment, the better.
Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, can be an effective treatment for depression. It involves discussing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with a mental health professional. The types vary, but they all aim to help you manage your symptoms and improve your mood. The most common type of talk therapy for depression is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Making lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep, can also help to improve symptoms of depression.
It’s challenging to even get out of bed, let alone move and exercise daily when you’re depressed. So these changes may seem daunting. But even minor lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on your mood.
Eating healthy is another area of your life you can look at when changing to help treat depression. Healthy eating habits can improve your mood and overall well-being. While it’s easy to go for comfort foods, these can make your depression worse.
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health. When you’re depressed, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. This can make your symptoms worse and lead to further problems.
These are complementary treatments. They work with traditional treatments, such as medication and talk therapy to help you manage your symptoms.
Treatment-resistant depression requires more than just taking a pill. It often takes a combination of different treatments to find the right one for you.
TMS Therapy for Treatment Resistant Depression:
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to stimulate the brain. It’s FDA-approved to treat depression that hasn’t responded to other treatments.
TMS therapy is usually done five times a week for four to six weeks. Each session lasts about 40 minutes. During TMS therapy, a medical professional places a coil against your head near your forehead.
The coil sends magnetic pulses to the area of your brain that regulates mood. These pulses stimulate nerve cells and can help improve symptoms of depression. TMS therapy is a promising treatment for people with TRD with support from clinical trials.
Various treatments are available for treatment-resistant depression, including medication, talk therapy, and TMS therapy. Finding the right treatment that works for you is challenging, but it is possible with patience and perseverance. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances for remission.
If you’re struggling with treatment resistant depression, contact us today and start feeling like yourself again.
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