If you’ve been treated for depression but your symptoms haven’t improved, you may have treatment resistant depression (TRD.) Taking an antidepressant or going to psychological counseling eases depression symptoms for most people. But with treatment-resistant depression, standard treatments are not enough. 

Treatment-resistant depression can leave you feeling hopeless and discouraged. Months or even years can go by without any relief. And after the effort it took to get help, it can be demoralizing when you’re just not getting better.         

Some experts say that a person needs to try at least four different treatments before depression can be truly considered treatment resistant.  Of course for you, the exact definition does not matter.

Here are some basis questions to ask yourself to determine if you have TRD. 

  • Has your treatment failed to make you feel better? 
  • Has your treatment helped a bit, but you still don’t feel like your old self? 
  • Have the side effects of your medication been hard to handle? 

If the answer is yes to any of these, you need to see your doctor and/or therapist. Many people can get their treatment-resistant depression under control when the right approach is found. This might include different medications, therapy, and other possible treatments. 

If you have already tried an antidepressant and it did not work, don’t lose hope. You and your doctor simply may not have found the right dose, medication or combination of medications that work for you.

If prescribed medication, often times your doctor will increase your dose if indicated. Because people respond to medications differently, you may benefit from a higher dose of medication than is usually prescribed. Be sure to ask your doctor whether this is an option for you.

Other times your doctor might choose to switch antidepressants or add another medication to your regimen. You may need to try several before you find one that works for you.   

Psychological counseling, more commonly referred to as psychotherapy, from a mental health professional can be very effective especially combined with medication. Psychotherapy can help identify underlying concerns that may be adding to your depression, for example: 

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

If counseling doesn’t seem helpful, talk to your psychotherapist about trying a different approach. Or consider seeing someone else. As with medications, it may take several tries to find a treatment that works for you. 

Whatever you do, don’t settle! Don’t give up and accept the symptoms of depression and remember the longer a depression goes on, the harder it may be to treat. There are so many good treatments for depression out there. You just need to find the right one for you.

If you feel like you may be struggling with treatment-resistant depression and are interested in seeking counseling, please contact Brian at Life Counseling Solutions to schedule a free 15 minute telephone consultation.

Brian has been counseling for the last 18 years working with various types of people from veterans to those struggling with substance abuse, depression, or anxiety. He strongly believes that people can get  better and achieve their full potential if provided with the right therapy and guidance. See Brian’s full bio.