According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 1 in 5 adults in the US experience some type of mental illness each year. That’s 43.8 million people suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
Many Americans successfully battle through mental health issues on their own. For those who need additional help, medications are often the first choice for treatment.
Depression: A Continuous Battle
I have friends and family who have taken the same medication for depression or anxiety over many years and have wonderful results. Others, not so much.
The brain is constantly changing. For depression sufferers, this can mean an ever-evolving treatment plan. In most cases, continuous changes in medications or even combinations of various ones are utilized.
But our bodies and brains adapt. Especially when it comes to drugs. We become resistant. We need higher doses or different chemicals altogether to achieve the desired effect. It’s the primary mechanism of addiction and also one of the reasons why a certain antidepressant medication stops working.
Treatment Resistant Depression: Looking for Other Options
The number of medications for mental health issues is pretty large, but it’s not unlimited. And they don’t work for everyone.
When I lived in California, I had a friend who suffered from severe, debilitating anxiety. There were days when she couldn’t even leave the house. After a few years of various medications, she had to begin exploring other treatments.
My friend had great results from exposure therapy. While it’s not really applicable to depression sufferers, it can provide significant improvement from various anxiety disorders.
Essentially, it’s forcing yourself to do the things that make you anxious. For someone with social anxiety, it might mean forcing yourself to go to the store and staying just a little bit longer than you’re comfortable with. Exposure therapy is kind of the “face your fear” therapy.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Therapy
One of the most innovative therapies available today for treating clinical depression, TMS (or rTMS) therapy stimulates the brain with electromagnetic induction.
TMS therapy is completely noninvasive, and the large majority of patients report little or no side-effects.
rTMS has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated procedure that can be an effective treatment for patients with depression who have not benefited from antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate antidepressant medications due to side-effects. ~Johns Hopkins Medicine
On the East Coast, where I currently live, Johns Hopkins is one of the more popular providers. For my friends in family back in California, there are great places to receive TMS Therapy:
An often-overlooked option, talking to a professional can provide many benefits. Unfortunately, many people attach a stigma to the need to speak to a therapist.
A licensed and trained psychiatrist can help define underlying concerns that may be adding to your depression.
Psychological counseling can help you find better ways to cope with challenges and reduce the effects of stress in your life.
Exercise & Hobbies
My friend in California still has some anxiety issues even with exposure therapy. One of the things that really got her over the hump was that she began running.
Exercise has well-known mental health benefits and is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress. My friend runs marathons now, and she’s good at it. Every race leaves her with a sense of accomplishment and a drive to do more.
While anxiety and depression can be a life-long battle, they don’t have to be a battle you lose. You might some good days and some bad days, but with the variety of options out there, something is bound to work.
What therapies have you tried? What were the results? I’d love to see your comments!
Sources and additional reading:
 National Institute of Mental Health: Mental Illness
 American Psychological Association: What Is Exposure Therapy?
 Johns Hopkins Medicine: Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
 Mayo Clinic: Treatment-Resistant Depression