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If Antidepressants Don't Work, What Can You Do?

2010-01-07 15:19

A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association has indicated that certain antidepressants are not effective for people with milder cases of depression. Before seeking medication for sad feelings, it may be appropriate to determine if you have clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder, or just a case of the blues and if there are lifestyle changes you can make to help with relief from the symptoms.

Clinical depression is an illness that causes sadness, loss of interest in enjoyable activities, social withdrawal, and fatigue or low energy levels. Sad and hopeless feelings occur every day for at least 2 weeks. The terms mild, moderate, and severe describe the level of symptoms and length of episodes. Clinical depression is a result of an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly serotonin and dopamine. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, clinical depression affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically occurs in the winter when people receive less ambient light and are indoors for extended periods of time. It correlates with mild depression, and as the weather turns warmer and days get longer, symptoms usually resolve. Like other forms of depression, it is typically more prominent in women than in men.

No matter the cause or form of depression, it is important to seek appropriate help to ensure that it does not progress into a more serious situation. Counseling, psychotherapy, support groups and other mental health professionals can help you decide if medication is an appropriate avenue. Should symptoms be manageable without medication, here are some tips for helping break the depression cycle.

First, understand that depression is not a character flaw or something you can just “get over”. Accept yourself and your current situation and seek attention, not blame. Talk with trusted family or friends for emotional support.

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Second, take care of yourself and your health. Ensure that depression is not being caused by another health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease or that your depression is not doing the reverse, and causing stress that exacerbates these conditions. Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Some foods may be beneficial to include in the diet, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which may have mood-lifting effects. Avoid drugs, including caffeine, and alcohol which can make symptoms worse.

Some dietary supplements have been marketed as relief from depression or to improve mood. Some of these supplements have been shown to be beneficial for mild depression and seasonal affective disorder, and some are simply unfounded.

St. John’s Wort is the most studied alternative remedy for depression and in many studies has been shown to be beneficial in the relief of mild to moderate depression. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) has been sold over the counter as a mood enhancer since 1998. It is a compound that affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. A 2002 review of the available research on SAMe found that it was more effective than a placebo in the treatment of mild depression. Among the supplements that are not shown to have any clinical benefit are Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), Inositol, and tryptophan.

Although you may feel fatigued or low in energy, getting regular exercise is a key factor in relief of depression symptoms. One study found that depressed patients who worked out for 30 minutes a day reduced severity of symptoms by as much as 50%. Getting outside in the winter for a walk when the weather is mild is also beneficial for seasonal affective disorder.

Maintaining a daily routine, trying to reduce stress levels, and getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night are also beneficial for symptom relief.

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Comments

I have been on dozens of anti-depressants over the years and NONE work for me! Any positive advise?
you need to get genotyped to see if your liver metabolizes the drugs properly, or not.
In this blog train this was probably the most sound advice given. There are natural ways to address mood and hormone problems, but marijuana is not one of them. It is a psychoactive drug and as an addictive drug it will lie to your mind and body making you beleive that it is making you better when in actuality it is tearing your health and mind down. There are some very old studies with marijuana from 1960's looking the brains with CT scans and showing flattening of the brian gyra (which is sign of dementia) and it showed that marijuana accelerated this at a faster rate than even alcohol. My advise to respondant #1 is that you have Bipolar disorder since you had a Seritonin reaction in response to anti-depressants. Get of the marijuana, clean up your diet and seek out a practitioner who will treat your depression and Bipolar disorder with T3 and Oxytocin. Hormone balance will be the key to sound mind and body not drugs and more pollutants.
YOGA therapy/Breathing excercise is the best and free way to manage depression without any sideeffects and with additional benefits
You made multiple spelling mistakes
Bothers me much that someone feels so critical that they have to comment about typos on a page about depression. We are looking for positive support, not blame.
Wow seriously? Don't comment if you don't like the fact that someone is strange about spelling mistakes. I find that very hypocritical.
Seriously? You are going to be that person? You Asshole! NEVER only point out the negative to someone with clinical depression! What a stupid idiot you are. Having studied clinical depression and psychiatry for years this is the worst thing you can do. If you were on this site looking for help just ready and keep your mouth shut unless you have something helpful or nice to say. On behalf of all postpartum mothers out there. FOCUS! (F off 'cause your stupid!) xo
I tried many antidepressants they all work and usually too well they are very strong medicines they send me into mania with crazy laughing and anxiety, you cant get to sleep, cant relax, you twitch like crazy, and you feel bugs on your skin but there are none there. You will sweat and develop cystic acne. These are very strong medicines super difficult to get off you will most likely be on one for the rest of your life if you start one as the withdrawl from these drugs is worse than death after you have been taking them for a while. It sickens me how liberally these are prescribed, they have sometimes permanent effects even if you manage to get off. I dont understand people who say they are not affected by these powerful drugs must be a liver thing. They say it takes weeks to notice a difference I can tell 40 minutes after the first dose. Exercise helps quite a bit you must also get sunshine and fresh air it will be super difficult if you are depressed and alone now caffeine can help with this if you drink enough you will have to go run the anxiety off, it will not be fun most likely but you will feel better afterward. Is better to do more like an hour you must run as hard as you can and push yourself beyond what you think you can do. Yes if you have a medical problem you must take care of that or it will worsen your depression in my case had to quit smoking cigarettes after 18 years it caused a irritated throat which led to a bacterial infection that spread thru my digestive tract, making me feel terrible all the time, amazingly every idiot doctor I saw prescribed me antibiotics which worked but then upon discontiuation my digestive system was wrecked by them more and more and on and on this went... I had to figure out for myself to not take antibiotics and not listen to these doctors well I could write a essay about how stupid most drs are they listen to you for max 3 minutes then the prescribe you a pill like they know whats going on with you after 3 minutes then they charge you 200 bucks thats all they do god I hate most of them do not trust them... another thing... absolutely do not oversleep if you are depressed... undersleeping is bad too...7-8 hours is good... if you are one of those who have erratic sleeping pattern like me I will stay up for 20 hrs then sleep you cant keep a schedule or routine during the day I start to feel bad that I wasted my day sleeping, feel bad I have no job etc... Last thing I want to add is about alternative remedies well st. johns wort did not lift my mood at all it may have made it worse and it gave me some anxiety, I dont know about sam-E never tried it. I will say this tho the utimate alternative remedy that absolutely destroys depression is called marijuana and unlike others I know I dont funtion well around strangers while high and can get very anxious on it so its use is limited for me. anyways thanks for read my novel lol hope it can help you in some way
You sound exactly like me, down to the Maryjane! It helps me quite a bit, but I don't feel so social, after partaking! I get my appetite back, due to being robbed of it, from horrible, chronic pain....it does give me relief, knowing I can get my nutrition needs met....I choose my foods very selectively....it's medicine, like everything we ingest! Thanks for your honesty...:)