Taking antidepressants is an important step for many people with depression. There is a lot of stigma against people with depression, and even more so against those who seek medical intervention in the form of medications. Due to stigma, those who really need medication to help their depression are often uninformed about what antidepressants actually do.

7 things to know if antidepressants don’t work for you

Sometimes people who use them find that they are not working the way they thought they should. When medicine doesn’t work, many people with depression are left wondering what their next step will be. If you’ve tried taking antidepressants to help with your depression symptoms because it’s what you already need as a last resort and you’ve found that they’re not working, here’s what you need to know.

1. Medication doesn’t always work

Dr. Jennifer Payne says, “We have a vague understanding of how antidepressants work, but that doesn’t mean we fully understand pharmacology. I don’t think anyone can offer a complete biological explanation for why antidepressants stop working. But I’ll say this: there are factors that can influence someone to relapse. ”

According to research, at least a third of people who seek medication do not find relief from their depression symptoms. This can be hard to hear, but sometimes medications just don’t work when it comes to finding relief from depression. But once you know it, you’ll be better equipped to find relief in other ways. Fortunately, medication is not the end of all depression treatments.

2. Science is still learning

Just because the drug doesn’t work for you now doesn’t mean it will never work for you. Science is still learning and coming up with new theories every day, with research on antidepressants and why the currently available drug doesn’t seem to be working for those who take it.

There is new research every day focused on the best ways to find therapeutic relief for those suffering from depression.

3. It may not be depression, but something else entirely.

Psychology and mental health are fields that are highly subjective in many respects. This means that although you may be experiencing all the symptoms of depression, that does not mean that is what you have.

Other disorders can and often do present as symptoms of depression, such as bipolar disorder and personality disorders. Depression can often be a symptom of something else, which may be why people don’t respond to antidepressants.

4. The brain can adapt and learn to tolerate

According to this study, “antidepressant tachyphylaxis describes a condition in which a depressed patient loses a previously effective antidepressant treatment response despite remaining on the same drug and dose for maintenance treatment.” But what does this mean in simple terms?

What most antidepressants do is increase serotonin levels, which help fight most symptoms of depression and help find relief. Sometimes our brains adapt to medication in ways that make it less effective.

If you’ve been taking medications that seemed to help for a while, but are no longer working, your brain may have adjusted to the medication. Some things can help, such as a higher dose of the drug or a switch to another type of antidepressant.

5. Therapy helps reduce depression if medications don’t help

Many people give up therapy because they feel it doesn’t help, but psychotherapy is a tried and true method that can help depressive symptoms. However, the point of therapy is that it requires time, effort, and dedication on the part of the patient and the therapist.

It can take years to achieve the full benefits of psychotherapy, but there are no potential side effects of therapy in the same way as with medication . Before proceeding with medical intervention, it is important to seek therapy as the first line to combat depression.

6. Make sure you get enough sleep

According to Dr. Lawrence J. Epstein, “People who have trouble sleeping have a higher risk of developing emotional disorders, depression, and anxiety.” Therefore, when you start taking antidepressants , you should make sure you are getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Lack of sleep can cause instability in mood and can also affect the effectiveness of antidepressants. If you find that your antidepressants aren’t working the way they should, make sure you get enough sleep. Studies find that patients who are getting the right amount of sleep have increased responses to antidepressant therapy.

7. Know your options

Antidepressants come in such a wide range of different options that many people don’t know what might work best for them. They may try one type of antidepressant and find that it doesn’t work, so they give up entirely. If you notice that you are not responding well to one type of antidepressant, be sure to ask your doctor what other options exist.

Antidepressants come in two main types, and you may respond better to one or the other. You may also need to add non-antidepressants that can help those medications work better, such as thyroid hormone or fish oil.

Depression is a serious mental illness that affects many people. The stigma surrounding medication can make knowing how to manage your depressive symptoms that much more difficult, and when medication doesn’t work, you may wonder where to turn.

Fortunately, there is a lot about depression medications that your doctor can help you understand. As long as you are honest and thorough about how your depression is responding to medication, your doctor will be able to help you find the right treatment for you, and who knows, the right treatment may not be any medication at all!

Always use up every last resort to know if it really is what you need, when it is already an imbalance that cannot be controlled in another way, resort to the most natural resources to solve that problem.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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