January 11

When Antidepressants Stop Working

Depression is experienced by millions of people over the world. Many people experiencing depression reach out to medical professionals to help them manage their mental health and symptoms. Individuals suffering from depression typically begin with an evaluation from a mental health professional like a psychiatrist and schedule talk therapy with counselors. In many cases, and depending on the severity of the depression, a psychiatrist will also prescribe antidepressants to help manage the depression symptoms. 

What are antidepressants?

Antidepressants are medications that are prescribed to help relieve an individual suffering from depression, mood disorders, and anxiety. The most common antidepressant prescribed are SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Used in treating clinical depression, SSRI’s block serotonin from being reabsorbed into the brain’s neurons, allowing them to be available in the body. The available serotonin then improves the messaging from the brain, releasing mood enhancing signals. SSRI’s improve the chemical balances of the brain that cause chronic depression, allowing for the individual to begin experiencing relief. When prescribed antidepressants, it is very important for patients to always take the medication as prescribed. But what happens when they stop working? Or you can’t handle the side effects? 

Why do antidepressants stop working?

Many people have experienced relief from their chronic depression with the help of antidepressants. They maintain a medication regimen for years that helps them combat and manage their depression. But sometimes they stop working, and the individual experiences a depression relapse. Some signs to look out for when you think your medication is no longer working:

  • Your mood seems low
  • Changes in your appetite or sleeping patterns
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Increasing desire to isolate

There may be countless of reasons why your antidepressant has stopped working. More than likely, it is due to tachyphylaxis. Tachyphlaxis is a medical term used to describe when a previously effective medication is no longer successfully treating your condition. Just like other chronic illnesses, depression can progress in severity over time. And it will need new approaches in treatment. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (or TMS) can help these individuals. A noninvasive form of treatment, TMS is a therapy that sends out magnetic pulses to specific areas of the brain connected with mood, stimulating these regions that have been long inactive. 

If you’re suffering from breakthrough depression, and would like to explore your options with TMS, you will first need to be evaluated by a mental health professional to determine you are a good candidate. Once established, the patient can discuss their options with their psychiatrist, such as combining different therapy options for their treatment resistant depression. Patients can utilize TMS as a treatment by itself or in conjunction with their medication and talk therapy. Each person is different, and the nature of their severe depression can vary. But TMS makes long-term remission possible.



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