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Treatment-Resistant Depression

If you're dealing with long-term depression, you may wonder why you can't feel better. Other people you know may have recovered from their depression more easily -- a few months of therapy or antidepressants, and they were back to normal. But it hasn't been like that for you, no matter what treatment you've tried.

There's no one reason for treatment-resistant depression. For most people, it's probably a mix of different factors. Some of them are beyond your control, such as the genes you were born with. But some things you can control. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to feel better.

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Possible Causes

Not staying on a medicine long enough. Antidepressants can take as long as 6 to 8 weeks before they fully take effect. Unfortunately, many people -- and sometimes even doctors -- give up on a drug too early, before it's had a chance to help.

Skipping doses. You'll never know if a drug is working unless you take it exactly as prescribed.

Unpleasant side effects. Many people who have side effects stop taking their antidepressants. That isn't a good idea. Instead, talk to your doctor and get some help. You might be able to get rid of or ease the side effects, or switch to a different drug or combo of drugs. Also, keep in mind that side effects tend to decrease over time.

Drug interactions. Some other medications don't mix well with antidepressants. When taken at the same time, neither one may work normally. In some cases, interactions could be dangerous.

The wrong medicine or the wrong dose. Antidepressant drugs work differently in different people. Unfortunately, there's no way to predict how well a depression medicine will work without trying it. So finding the right medicine, at the right dose, takes trial and error -- and occasionally, some time. Many people give up before they find the right one.

Your genes. Researchers have begun to examine genes that may be linked with harder-to-treat forms of depression in some people. But genetic tests can't, as yet, pinpoint which medicines are the most effective for a given person with depression.

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