50%-60% of individuals using antidepressants find relief from the first one they try. Unfortunately, some may not get complete relief from their depression symptoms, and others have no response at all.
Read on to learn what to do when antidepressants don’t work for you anymore. Understand what to expect, review questions to ask your healthcare provider, and learn several ways to adjust your treatment plan and explore different therapies.
When it comes to antidepressants, misconceptions are common, and can create confusion about depression remission. For this reason, when considering antidepressants, you should begin by setting realistic expectations regarding symptom relief from your depression.
Antidepressants are not instant fixes, and they do not create a feeling of euphoria shortly after taking them. In fact, it may take several weeks to feel the full, mood-stabilizing impact. You may also experience short-lived side effects before you feel relief, including a local “dip” in your mood, but that does not indicate how effective an antidepressant may be after it is given adequate time to take effect.
It may take more than one attempt to find an effective antidepressant for you. While 36.8% of individuals get relief from the first antidepressant they try, another 30.6% only see improvement after trying a second type of antidepressant.
Being in remission from depression means you may still have bad days and problems to work through, as this is still normal for those without depression. However, once in remission, you will be better equipped to process, cope, and manage the challenges of life, without becoming incapacitated by them.
Depression can reoccur throughout an individual’s lifetime. 50% of those who have experienced one depressive episode will go through another once during their lifetime, and 80% of those who have contended with two episodes are likely to experience additional episodes in the future. Understanding how to respond to difficult life situations can help you avoid or shorten future depressive episodes.
Some individuals take longer to respond to antidepressants or may not get complete relief. Before you see signs your antidepressant is not working, ask your healthcare provider about your medication and anything that may impact your response.
To ensure you get the most relief possible from your antidepressant, be sure you understand how to take it correctly. Ask your doctor the following questions:
Depressive symptoms also overlap with other physical and mental health conditions, and a misdiagnosis is also a possibility. Ask your doctor:
Changes in your physical depression symptoms may be your first clue that your antidepressant is starting to work, often within the first two weeks. Find out:
Antidepressant response varies among individuals, and some medications may need more time to take full effect. Make sure you have a sound estimate about:
After taking an antidepressant for several weeks, you and your provider may be ready to adjust your medication plan.
Adjusting your dosage should only be done in consultation with a licensed, experienced professional.
As antidepressants begin to improve an individual’s functioning, additional therapies can help with symptom improvement by addressing other needs.
Evidence shows that the combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy is often more effective than either treatment alone. Depending on an individual’s needs, both long-term and short-term therapy can be helpful.
Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS™) is a noninvasive medical device treatment for depression. Due to its proven safety and efficacy, it has been FDA-cleared to treat depression, making it a valuable augmentation to antidepressants and psychotherapy treatments.
During Deep TMS’s 20-minute sessions, targeted magnetic pulses are delivered to deep regions of the brain associated with depressive symptoms, stimulating neural connections and regulating brain activity in the targeted structures. A cushioned helmet is utilized for deeper, more accurate stimulation and effective relief.
During Deep TMS treatments, individuals may experience mild side effects such as a brief headache, without any long-lasting or significant side effects. Deep TMS does not necessitate the use of anesthesia or require a lengthy recuperation process, thereby allowing the patient to drive themselves to and from the treatment clinic. After several weeks of treatment, neural activity in these regions stabilizes and symptoms begin to improve.
Additional non-medication treatments can support symptom remittance with minimal adverse effects.
Unsure what to do when antidepressants don’t work for you? Searching for effective depression treatment can be frustrating, but fortunately, there are many options. Don’t give up—consider your needs and explore different treatments to find one that works for you.