Research shows 1 in 10 Americans utilize some form of antidepressant medication. However, antidepressant medications are not effective and tolerable for everyone. If you find that you are still struggling with depression symptoms or can no longer tolerate the side effects that occur with antidepressants, you aren’t alone and there’s still hope in achieving remission. Here are four things you should know if your antidepressants aren’t helping:
It’s Not Just You
Each year, depression affects over 14 million U.S. adults. While some people can achieve full remission from depression with the help of traditional treatments, this is not the case for everyone. About 30-40% of those 14 million diagnosed with major depressive disorder, despite adequate medications and/or therapy, do not experience improvement in their symptoms. They develop treatment resistance also known as treatment refractory depression or TRD.
Treatment resistant depression is defined as the failure to respond or achieve remission after two or more trials of antidepressant medication of adequate dose and duration. If antidepressants and talk therapy aren’t working for you, you’re not alone and it doesn’t mean you can’t feel better. There are many alternative and non-drug treatments available that can help.
You Deserve to Feel Better, Without the Side Effects
Antidepressants have been a key part in treating depression since the 1980s. They work by balancing chemicals in the brain. They are usually taken daily and they can be life changing for some. However, medications often take weeks to work and do not adequately relieve symptoms for everyone.
Additionally, antidepressants, like all medications, can cause side effects. Common side effects of antidepressants include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Excessive sweating
Talk to Your Doctor Before Making Changes to Your Treatment
If you continue to struggle with persistent depression symptoms or unwanted side effects, it may be time to talk to your doctor about making changes to your treatment. It’s important to discuss your side effects or concerns with your doctor, so they can help advise next steps. Sometimes, remission can by achieved by changing antidepressant medications or adding an augmenter. You may also ask them about all your mental health treatment options including drug-free alternatives, like TMS.
You Have Options for Depression Treatment
If you are not responding to medication and talk therapy, or you would like to supplement your treatment, consider alternative therapies. There are multiple safe and highly effective alternatives that can help you achieve symptom relief.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
Transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, is an FDA-cleared, non-invasive, and non-drug treatment that is safe and effective for treating a range of conditions affecting mental health and cognition. It works by using gentle magnetic pulses to target specific areas of the brain responsible for mood. Unlike other treatments and medication, which affect the entire body as they pass through the blood-barrier, TMS is non-systemic. TMS treats the brain directly which allows for far fewer side effects and in some cases, no side effects at all. The most common side effect was temporary and mild scalp discomfort during active treatment.
Since TMS does not require surgery or sedation, there is zero downtime. Patients are able to drive themselves to and from treatments and get back to work or school after their session is complete. It is also covered by most insurance including Medicare, Aetna, Anthem, Blue Shield, Optum, MHN/Healthnet, Tricare, Cigna, Magellan and Beacon and more.
Ketamine has been used safely as an FDA-approved anesthetic since the 1960s. In more recent years it has been designated as a ‘breakthrough therapy’ for its use as a highly effective and rapid-acting treatment for a wide range of mood disorders and neuropathic pain. It is arguably the most significant development in psychiatry during the past few decades.
Ketamine can be administered intravenously or intranasally with a nasal spray (Spravato). Both IV ketamine and Spravato have the ability to go to work rapidly—often within an hour or two after the first treatment compared to the 6-12 week onset period of conventional medications. And after a short series of repeated doses, this effect typically extends out for weeks to months.
Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy, or MeRT, gives you and your doctor the power to directly measure, analyze, and improve brain function. This revolutionary technology combines TMS therapy, EEG & EKG to deliver personalized treatments for each individual’s distinct brain pattern. Using both neuroscience and machine learning, MeRT visibly reshapes brainwave activity and strengthens functionality to improve health outcomes. And just like TMS, MeRT is non-invasive, non-systemic and has no drug-related side effects.
Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is another alternative for treatment refractory depression, however this procedure requires general anesthesia. ECT is an outpatient procedure, administered by a team of medical professionals including a psychiatrist, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse or physician assistant. During treatment, electrodes are attached directly to the scalp and small electric currents pass through the brain which intentionally induce seizure.
ECT works by altering brain chemistry that can reduce symptoms of certain mental health conditions. Although ECT can provide rapid, significant improvements, ECT requires general anesthesia and is associated with a number of side effects including memory loss, confusion and physical side effects like muscle soreness.
Patients should not tolerate unwanted side effects or partial remission. If your antidepressants aren’t helping you feel better, it could be time to consider other options. To learn more about your treatment options, or to schedule a consultation, contact us with our online form or give us a call at (877) 847-3984.