4 Things to Know About Treatment-Resistant Depression (Hint: There is Hope)


Treatment-resistant depression is just that: depression that persists, failing to respond to several depression treatments. About one third of those diagnosed with depression experience treatment-resistant symptoms, or, to put that into perspective, about 6 million people. This population suffers from constant feelings of sadness and loneliness, trouble sleeping, perpetual fatigue and even suicidal thoughts…with hope fading away each time a new depression treatment fails them.

To be diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, a patient must have failed to respond to a minimum of two different depression treatments. The treatments must have been given fair chance to work, meaning they were given at least six weeks to take effect. By the time a patient is diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, they have been experiencing debilitating depression symptoms for 3-months or longer.

Researchers don’t fully understand why some patients respond to treatment and others don’t. Artificial intelligence has recently begun to help doctors identify which treatments would be most effective for which patients based on their unique neurochemistry, however that method of diagnosing and prescribing medication is not yet available outside clinical trials.

So, what do we know NOW about treatment-resistant depression? This is what researchers have to say:

1. Age, sex and co-morbidities may make you more susceptible.

Women and seniors are more vulnerable to treatment-resistant depression, and thyroid conditions, chronic pain, substance abuse disorders, anorexia or bulimia, and sleep disorders may also contribute.

2. The cause of your depression makes a difference.

Only recently did researchers begin to recognize that depression could be caused by more than just a neurotransmitter deficiency. In addition to a lack of serotonin, depression can also be caused by inflammation. Understanding the cause of depression can help doctors prescribe the most appropriate medication…however, it isn’t easy to determine what the specific cause of depression is in any one individual.

3. Treatment-resistant depression can still be treated.

Treatment-resistant does NOT mean there is no hope. Doctors recommend trying first to optimize a treatment, whether by increasing the dose or giving it more time to work. The next step would be switching medications, or trying a combination of several medications. Ketamine infusions are often introduced in this stage, and have a remarkable rate of efficacy with treatment-resistant patients: as many as 70% experience relief!

Your doctor may also want to augment your medications with other medications that may not traditionally be used to treat depression.

Finally, holistic or somatic depression treatments can offer a ray of light. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) or electroconvulsive therapies can have success rates of 70-80%.

4. Research is ongoing.

Thanks to ketamine research, there is a whole new understanding of how depression works in the brain. This knowledge, combined with the decades of research performed prior, has contributed to a major boom in depression research. If your condition seems hopeless now, hang on—you never know when the next breakthrough treatment will become available. Don’t quit before the miracle happens!

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Contact Ketamine Greater Boston

Ketamine Greater Boston offers ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other psychiatric conditions. If you are suffering from treatment-resistant depression and haven’t found a solution, ketamine could be what you’re looking for. Contact us for a free consultation today to learn more about ketamine infusions and find out of you’re a candidate.