Between 10% and 15% of people living in the United States are diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) each year. Somewhere between 10% and 30% of patients diagnosed with MDD do not respond, or do not respond positively, to standard antidepressant treatments. The lives of these patients are often functionally impaired, reducing their quality of life significantly. They self-injure and may have suicidal thoughts or attempts. Treatments may be effective for a short time, but symptoms return. This is Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD).
Treatment Resistant Depression is complex and caused by multiple risk factors, making it difficult to define clearly. The diagnosis is given to “patients who have not been helped by two or more antidepressant treatment trials of adequate dose and duration,” as one study published by the National Institutes of Health reports. If you have tried more than two antidepressant treatments without satisfactory results, you may have TRD.
Living with MDD
Not Responding to Antidepressants
That same study goes on to say that at any one time 14 million people are suffering from depression, but only about half receive any form of treatment. Of the half that receive treatment, only about one-third get the right medicine on the first try. Finding that right antidepressant treatment is tricky. A research article published in 2017 reporting on an attempt to make prescribing the right treatment less challenging also reports that:
“Major depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide.”
Most people have a primary care physician who they go to first with physical problems such as fatigue, changes in appetite, or trouble sleeping. As much as 60%-65% of antidepressants are prescribed by primary care physicians. But because depression, and especially treatment resistant depression, is a complex issue, it often needs a more complex solution. Specialists like psychiatrists and psychologists can often develop more effective treatments because they can combine medications with other therapies for better treatment outcomes.
Have you tried at least two different antidepressant medications that haven’t made enough difference in your depression symptoms to significantly improve your quality of life? Did your symptoms improve for a while, but come back later?
If you suspect that you have TRD and you have only worked with your primary care doctor, consider another route. Ask for a referral to a psychiatrist. Since a psychiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in mental health issues, he or she can supervise your medications as well as recommend other treatment avenues to create that complex treatment program you may need to get your joy and hope back.
There is hope – and many treatment options. Sometimes a second opinion brings other physical and mental health issues to light that are contributing to your depression and provide new treatment options. Current medications may need more time to become fully effective. Dosages may need to be changed. Psychological counseling may be necessary as well. It can take the form of Cognitive Behavioral therapy, Dialectic behavioral therapy, or others. You may benefit from individual counseling or from group or family therapy. Procedures such as ECT, TMS, and VNS are options as well. We think TMS is a particularly attractive option because it is non-invasive with few side effects and extremely powerful results. Never underestimate the power of getting enough sleep, eating well, and appropriate exercise either.
With a specialty in psychiatry and over 25 years of experience in talk therapy & medication management, Dr. Griffith has become a strong advocate for TMS Therapy simply due to the miraculous results the treatment yields. Dr. Griffith says, “TMS Therapy is undeniably helping 100’s and 100’s of thousands of people who suffer from depression. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), a non-medication treatment, brings hope to those who aren’t getting the results they want with antidepressants. Antidepressants don’t always work and sometimes different treatment modalities are worth looking into.”
TMS therapy is a great route to take if you’re not benefiting from antidepressants. For more perspective on this treatment check out our testimonial page: