Reasons Why Your Antidepressant is No Longer Working

man fighting depression

If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, your doctor likely recommended a treatment combination of therapy and medication. Antidepressants are believed to work by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain. These chemicals can improve mood and emotion and relieve chronic pain. 

The downside to taking antidepressants is that they do not address the underlying causes for depression. This is why they are best used in conjunction with therapy, as it’s important for you to understand why you are depressed, as well as develop healthier ways to cope. 

For example, if you’re constantly engaging in negative self-talk, therapy can help you identify it and challenge it for a healthier, more positive attitude. But what happens when your antidepressant stops working? 

While you can’t expect your medication to cure depression, it should still be effective at managing your symptoms. When this isn’t happening, or it stops happening, you’ll want to talk to your doctor to see if a higher dose or new medication is right for you. 

What are the Signs That My Antidepressant is No Longer Working? 

First, let’s explore some of the signs that your antidepressant is not working as it should. This way, you can develop realistic expectations for how you should be responding to the medication. 

  • You feel better initially, but the feeling doesn’t last. 
  • You’re having trouble sleeping at night. 
  • Your mood is still low after taking the medication for several months.
  • You have more energy, but you’re still feeling blue. 
  • You’re experiencing unpleasant side effects. 
  • Your depression is getting worse. 

Why Do Antidepressants Stop Working? 

There are a number of reasons why antidepressants stop working effectively. These include: 

Incorrect diagnosis 

One of the primary reasons why your antidepressant may not be working is a misdiagnosis or an inaccurate assessment of your condition. Depression can manifest in various ways, and its causes can be multifaceted. 

Sometimes, other underlying conditions, such as anxiety disorders or bipolar disorder, may be misinterpreted as depression. To ensure your symptoms are being treated accurately, make sure you receive a comprehensive and accurate diagnosis.

Biological differences 

Every individual is unique, and their response to medications can vary significantly. Antidepressants work by altering the balance of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. 

However, the way your body metabolizes these medications can differ from others, leading to variations in their effectiveness. It may take time to find the right medication, dosage or combination of medications that work best for you, so be patient. 

Treatment duration and dosage 

Antidepressants often require time to build up in your system and start producing noticeable effects. It’s essential to follow the prescribed dosage consistently and give the medication sufficient time to take effect, usually around six weeks or so. 

Sometimes, people stop taking their antidepressants prematurely because they believe they’re not working, or they don’t like the side effects. However, abruptly discontinuing antidepressant medication can hinder its effectiveness and make your symptoms worse. 

Lifestyle factors

While medication can play a crucial role in managing depression, it’s not the sole solution. Lifestyle factors such as sleep, diet, exercise and stress management also play a role in how you feel. Neglecting these aspects can impede the effectiveness of your antidepressant. 

To improve how the medication works, be sure to engage in regular physical activity, maintain a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and incorporate stress reduction techniques into your routine.

Co-occurring conditions or medications 

Depression often coexists with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or substance use. In such cases, treating depression alone may not be sufficient. Additionally, certain medications, including anticonvulsants, antipsychotics or benzodiazepines, can interact with antidepressants and reduce their effectiveness. 

When speaking with your doctor, make sure to inform them of any co-occurring conditions to ensure appropriate adjustments to your treatment plan. Wolf Creek Recovery does a full assessment when clients start outpatient drug rehab in AZ, and we make sure to review their diagnoses and treatment plans. 

Psychological factors 

The complexity of depression extends beyond biological factors. Psychological factors, such as unresolved trauma, ongoing stressors or negative thinking patterns, can impact the effectiveness of antidepressants. 

In many instances, therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), may be recommended in combination with medication to address these underlying issues and enhance treatment outcomes. 

Start Dual Diagnosis Treatment in Arizona 

Wolf Creek Recovery is a drug and alcohol rehab in Arizona that provides comprehensive treatment services for dual diagnosis. Our team will make sure that you are given an accurate diagnosis and a well-balanced treatment plan that includes medication, therapy and other lifestyle changes. We will also monitor your symptoms to make sure that you are improving. Contact our admissions team to learn more about our treatment services.