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The management of treatment-resistant depression takes special focus from you and your health care team. At least 30% of people living with depression don’t respond to the first two medicines they try at an adequate dose for an adequate amount of time. If you’re one of them, you’ll need to learn more about treatment-resistant depression and connect with the right doctors to help you to develop a treatment plan that improves your symptoms.


Choosing the Right Doctor

Whether you already have a doctor or are looking for one, think through what’s important to you as you start your care. The better your relationship with your doctor, the fewer hurdles you’ll have during your treatment.


  • Your comfort. Does your doctor listen to your concerns and answer your questions?Do you feel like you can be honest and open?
  • Their training and experience. Have they worked with people who have treatment-resistant depression before? How long have they been in practice?
  • Their process. How will they track your progress and decide how you’re doing? Are you both on the same page about your goals for treatment?
  • Communication style. How easy is it to get in touch with your doctor or make an appointment? Can you call or email between visits? Is telehealth an option?
  • Insurance. Is your doctor in your network, or will you have to pay out of pocket for visits? Does your doctor offer a sliding scale for payments?
  • Cultural awareness. Does your doctor understand and respect your background?

If you and your doctor aren’t a good fit, it’s OK – and even for the best – to move on to someone else. Treatment for your type of depression is long-term. You want to feel good about who is helping you manage it.

Becoming Your Own Advocate

You and your doctor are a team when it comes to managing your treatment-resistant depression. In addition to finding the right doctor, there are things you can do and know on your end to help enhance your care. 

Care for yourself. Dealing with treatment-resistant depression can make everyday tasks harder than usual. If you focus on the following specific goals, you may get through your day more smoothly and have more energy to advocate for yourself. 

  • Stick to your treatment plan. Don’t skip doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, or medication doses. 
  • Avoid drinking and drugs. It’s common to turn to drugs or alcohol to cope when you’re dealing with depression, but substance abuse can make symptoms worse and even harder to treat. 
  • Tame stress. Practice relaxation techniques such as meditation, tai chi, or progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Get good sleep. Poor sleep can make depression worse. Prioritize your rest. Set a schedule, shut off distractions, and get your sleep.
  • Move your body. Make regular exercise a priority. It boosts your mood.

Empower yourself. Everyone, regardless of their condition, has certain rights when they get health care. As you start treatment, you should know these rights. They include:

  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Respect, including sensitivity to your background
  • A clear explanation of your treatment
  • Freedom to ask questions and express your needs
  • Freedom to seek different care whenever you want

If you feel these rights aren’t being respected, speak up, switch doctors, or take other action to be sure you’re getting the care you need.

Educate yourself. As you move toward and through diagnosis with treatment-resistant depression, it’s important to learn as much as you can about it. That way, you will better understand what to expect and how to move forward. A doctor that’s a good fit should be able to answer your questions or point you toward resources that will give you the information you need. 

But you should also equip yourself with knowledge about treatment-resistant depression on your own, so you’ll be well informed during conversations with your doctor. 

For credible information and resources, try:

You may also want to educate yourself on clinical trials for treatment-resistant depression. Ask your doctor for guidance and see what’s available at, a searchable database of clinical trials around the world.

Show Sources

Photo Credit: Morsa Images/Getty Images


The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry: “The Prevalence and National Burden of Treatment-Resistant Depression and Major Depressive Disorder in the United States.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Finding a Mental Health Professional.”

Mayo Clinic: “Treatment-resistant depression.”

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: “Finding a Health Care Provider.”