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Depression is a vast term that is yet to be thoroughly explored. For a common man, depression is one term, but if you go to understand it, you will come to know that depression has many layers and can come in various forms. A person might be extremely happy on the outside, but can still be suffering from depression.

Overview of Treatment-Resistant Depression

Treatment-resistant depression is a condition wherein even after taking anti-depressants, your condition is not improving. If this is the case, you might need to discuss other options with your doctor before the condition worsens.

It is a common myth that depression is caused due to decrease in the serotonin or norepinephrine levels in the brain. This is true to some extent, but if antidepressants do not prove to be effective then another cause would be inflammation in the brain.

Now, treatment-resistant depression can occur due to various reasons, and once your doctor diagnoses the cause, they will be able to recommend the best treatment plan for you.

This type of condition can happen to anyone and can be caused due to any one of the below factors:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Medical conditions such as thyroid, diabetes, and chronic pain
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Stress

One of the major causes of this condition could be an incorrect diagnosis. Many mental health issue conditions might have symptoms similar to depression, hence anti-depressants might not be working. Similarly, if you are suffering from depression for a long time, your body might have gotten used to the medications and hence would not be responding to the same.

The good news is even if anti-depressants do not work on you, there are other treatment options such as psychotherapy. Vagus nerve stimulation, electroconvulsive therapy, and acupuncture. Depending on the stage of depression, your doctor can prescribe any of the above plans.

In addition to this, many researchers and training institutes are trying to come up with new drugs that can help with treatment-resistant depression.

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Diagnosing Treatment-Resistant Depression 

Now the question that comes to your mind is how do you know whether you suffer from treatment-resistant depression? Just because medications are not working, will not be sufficient evidence for the same.

Your doctor will thoroughly examine all your medical records and look for loopholes such as:

  • How long have you been taking the prescribed antidepressants?
  • Are you taking them in the right dosage?
  • What were the tests conducted to diagnose your depression?

Your doctor might further conduct some tests and if they mind that you might be suffering from nutritional deficiencies, they might put you on nutritional supplements such as zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, or folic acids to check if your condition can be treated.

If these also do not help your case, they might put you on other medications or slightly increase the dosage.

Many researchers are trying to experiment with psychostimulants that can be used with antidepressants. These stimulants when used in the right dosage can help reduce symptoms such as fatigue, tiredness, and anergia.


Treatment-resistant depression can be frustrating, but with a bit of patience and determination, you will be able to win over this condition. You can even join counselling sessions and learn from the experiences of others.