If you have been feeling like your antidepressant medications have stopped working for you, you aren’t alone. In fact, when it comes to some of the most frequently prescribed medications for mental health treatment, it is more common than you might think.
“Usually an antidepressant that’s worked for a patient will keep working,” says Paul Nestadt, M.D., psychiatrist and co-director of the Jack and Mary McGlasson Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins. “But sometimes, a new episode of depression might come up that’s not as responsive to that medication, or the medication might just stop working altogether.”
What Factors Could Cause Depression Meds to Be Less Effective?
Believe it or not, multiple factors can change the way your body responds to an antidepressant, even if it once worked wonders and seemingly no longer does. Here are some factors that may be unknowingly contributing to medication ineffectiveness.
- Drug or Alcohol Use: Drug use, including any illicit substances and even substances like nicotine and alcohol can cause strong alterations to mood and brain chemistry. As a result, these substances can sometimes block an antidepressant’s ability to do its job, which is typically rooted in regulating your brain chemistry.
- Dosage Inconsistency: When taking antidepressant medications, it’s important to maintain a consistent dosage. Since these types of medication usually rely on an even build-up, missing doses or attempting to compensate with more doses can render this medication ineffectiveness. In addition, this type of inconsistency can cause mood swings and worsen emotional instability.
- Pregnancy: Factors like your weight and blood volume can fluctuate substantially when you are pregnant. Since all medication will rely on this information in order to calculate your personal dosage, it is important to speak with your doctor about taking antidepressants while pregnant. Your health provider will be able to provide more insight on adjusting your dosage to reduce harm to the fetus while still relieving your symptoms.
- New Stress Factors: Life can be stressful, and it’s certainly full of new experiences and ups and downs. Common stressors can derive from situations at home, at work, or just in your everyday life, and occasionally these stressors can result in a mood response that your current antidepressant simply can’t compensate for.
- Medication Interference: Antidepressants can be finicky, and their effectiveness can sometimes fluctuate based on the emergence of other medications that you may take for other health conditions. When certain wires get crossed, this can affect how well each medication works.
- Age & Metabolism: As we age, our bodies begin to process everything differently, Over time, metabolism adjusts. As a result, treatment that may have been effective previously in your life may no longer be as efficient. Just as aging causes changes to our digestive and endocrine system, changes to your nervous system are possible as well.
- Tolerance: The most common reason your antidepressants may become ineffective is tolerance. If you’ve been taking your medication for some time, your body can begin to build up a tolerance to the chemical changes that your antidepressants work to create. Sometimes, this is inevitable, and alternate options start to become worth considering.
What To Do If Your Medication Becomes Ineffective
If you feel as though you are beginning to experience medication resistant depression symptoms, be sure to talk to your doctor before deciding what path to take next. Your medical care provider will take care to address any and all concerns about the effectiveness of your medication and can offer even more insight into possible alternative treatment.
When antidepressants and medications no longer work in your favor, it can be easy to feel lost and overwhelmed. However, remember that if you do find yourself in this scenario, you are not alone.
There exist multiple ways to treat depression symptoms without relying on your same ineffective medication. Newer treatments like TMS therapy can provide an alternate path to relief than you may be used to.
If you’re interested in learning more about what we do at TMS Center of Lehigh Valley and the depression treatment options we provide, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expertly trained staff to discuss further.