What is treatment-resistant depression?
When someone is diagnosed with any form of depression, such as major depressive disorder, the standard treatment option first provided is typically a combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication, like SSRIs or SNRIs. For most people, antidepressants are effective in treating depression symptoms, and they experience significant improvement or full remission. They may even be able to stop taking their medication after a psychiatrist sees marked improvement over a long period of time.
While antidepressants are effective for many, this isn’t the case for everyone. Approximately one-third of individuals who try an antidepressant don’t experience relief. Typically, a physician will change the dosage or prescribe a different medication, but the unfortunate truth is that each new antidepressant is less likely to be effective than the last. When an individual doesn’t have a significant improvement after taking antidepressants, this is referred to as treatment-resistant depression, or TRD. It can also be called treatment-refractory depression.
While it is not a clinical diagnosis, treatment-resistant depression is a term used in clinical psychiatry to identify an individual diagnosed with depression who has tried an evidence-based talk therapy in conjunction with an antidepressant for at least two months. Sometimes, cases of TRD are referred to by specifying the medication that the individual is resistant to, such as SSRI-resistant or SNRI-resistant.