There is some debate as to diagnosis criteria, but in general if someone has tried two types of antidepressants and failed to improve then it might be time to consider whether they have treatment resistant depression.
This type of depression can be misdiagnosed, often with bipolar disorder or dysthymia / mild depression.
Treatment resistant depression is a very frustrating and distressing illness; sufferers and their families may feel huge relief that things seem to be getting better, only to be knocked back when they get worse again.
Despite its name, there are treatment options for treatment resistant depression, but it is important to get an accurate diagnosis.
To talk to someone today about the treatment options available call 0203 326 9160.
We do not always know why some people have treatment resistant depression but the following factors could contribute:
Underlying health issues:
Improvement can be prevented by:
There are options available for help with treatment resistant depression.
The most important step is to get a thorough assessment with an experienced psychiatrist, who will be able to rule out any underlying health issues and investigate any factors that might have been previously neglected.
Treatment options may include:
Switching to new medication – 1 in 3 people do not respond to the first prescribed antidepressant. There is a range of other medication available.
Reviewing the dosage levels
Combining antidepressants with other medications such as antipsychotics or lithium.
Psychotherapy – talking therapies have been found to help improve the symptoms of depression. A study from 19971 found that for more severe cases of treatment resistant depression, treatment was more successful where psychotherapy and medication were combined than these treatments alone.
Click to read more about talking therapies.
ECT – electrical currents are passed through the brain to trigger a seizure. There can be side effects such as confusion or amnesia but for some patients ECT offers immediate relief of severe depression.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – not currently available on the NHS due to costs, it applies magnetic fields to alter brain activity.
1 Michael, E., Thae, MD., Joel B. et al (1997) Treatment of major depression with psychotherapy or psychotherapy – pharmacotherapy combinations in Archive General Psychiatry 54(11): 1009 - 1015.