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Help! My Antidepressants Are Not Working!

Depression is a frustrating, and often seemingly intractable illness. So severe of a public health problem is depression that it is the leading cause of disability worldwide. So if you are struggling to find a workable solution for your depression, you’re not alone. It’s not your fault, and you’re not weak. Like many other illnesses, depression takes time, effort, and dedication to treat. If your antidepressants are not working, here is what you need to know.

Trial and Error With Antidepressants

Antidepressants are just like any other medication. Sometimes they don’t work right away, and less frequently, they don’t work at all. Research consistently shows that most people need to try 2-3 antidepressants before they discover one that works for them. If your antidepressants are not working, talk to your doctor. You have a number of options:

  • Sometimes adding a new drug to your current antidepressant amplifies its effects, or reduces the severity of side effects.
  • You might switch to a new antidepressant. Even if the drugs are a similar formulation, patients sometimes find that a new drug works great, even when the old one did nothing at all.
  • Your doctor might need to increase your dosage. Sometimes you’re simply not getting an adequately high dose of the drug to benefit from it.

The Important Role of Therapy and Counselling

Antidepressants are not magic pills. You wouldn’t expect a heart condition to improve with medication alone if you were unwilling to adopt a heart-healthy diet. Antidepressants are much the same. They work alongside what you’re already doing, amplifying its effects. If you only take antidepressants but make no other changes, don’t be surprised if you don’t get better at all.

Research consistently shows that people who pursue counselling alongside antidepressant treatment get better more quickly, are less likely to relapse, and may even be able to stop taking their antidepressants. Counselling offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Helping you better understand your relationships.
  • Empowering you to make healthy choices that reduce your feelings of depression and hopelessness.
  • Helping you make healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Offering you solutions that may amplify the effects of your medication.
  • Providing you with judgement-free support to process challenging emotions.
  • Helping you control your anger with anger management.

Why Lifestyle Matters

Counselling can help, but even counselling may not go far enough. To truly get the most out of your depression treatment, you need to show up for counselling every week prepared to learn, share, and discuss the choices that may be contributing to your depression. Therapy can continue outside the walls of your therapist’s office if you’re willing to try to put what you’ve learned into action. Some other strategies that may help your depression dissipate more quickly include:

  • Exercising for 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Exercise can be almost as effective as antidepressant treatment.
  • Eating a balanced, healthy diet. Your doctor can help you determine whether certain foods might increase the efficacy of your antidepressant.
  • Getting plenty of sleep each night, and not sleeping during the day.
  • Spending more time on activities you enjoy.
  • Taking time each day to socialise with friends and loved ones.

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