Refractory Depression: What it is, how to identify and treat

 Refractory Depression: What it is, how to identify and treat

Lena Fisher

Depression can cause severe symptoms that affect the way an individual feels, thinks, and manages life. In addition, it can also trigger a variety of emotional and physical changes. The illness is characterized by different types, one of which is refractory depression - also known as resistant depression - which refers to individuals who are resistant to treatment.

When the patient is diagnosed with the disease, the psychiatrist indicates medications to reduce the symptoms. However, in refractory depression this does not occur, because there is no improvement.

Not seeing any improvement, consequently, the individual loses hope and stops trusting the specialists and attending therapy sessions, further aggravating the symptoms.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), Depression will be the most disabling disease worldwide by 2020, affecting more than 300 million people. In Brazil, 5.8% of the population has the disease.

How to identify refractory depression

There is no way to know in advance if a person has refractory depression. However, it is essential to be aware if the patient has undergone the full course of treatment and has not obtained results. If the symptoms have improved as little as possible and the person still has signs of depression, he or she may have refractory depression.

Despite being more difficult to treat, this type of depression has treatment and can be avoided. Therefore, the most important point is to seek the advice of a psychiatrist so that he can help you with the best approach.

Treatment refractory depression

Treatment techniques for refractory depression may include:


Psychotherapy is fundamental for the treatment of depression and any other mental health condition, because during the sessions the therapist will help the patient to change habits, increasing the pleasure and productivity of their routine.

Read also: Hypnotherapy: What it is, how it works, and benefits

Changing the medication

Changing medications can help in the treatment process. There are many people with resistance to certain types of medications, so the psychiatrist should prescribe another medication until the patient is suitable.

Electroconvulsive therapy

In electroconvulsive therapy you undergo a procedure in which you receive electric shocks to specific parts of your brain, and this promotes an improvement of some symptoms of depression.

Electroconvulsive therapy is a biological treatment, done under general anesthesia, where small electric currents pass through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure.

Also known as electroconvulsive therapy, electroshock, or ECT, electroconvulsive therapy is not usually the first line of treatment, so it is used only when previous treatments have been unsuccessful.

Read more at: Electroconvulsive Therapy: What it is, what it is for, and how it works

Lena Fisher

Lena Fisher is a wellness enthusiast, certified nutritionist, and author of the popular health and well-being blog. With over a decade of experience in the field of nutrition and health coaching, Lena has dedicated her career to helping people achieve their optimal health and live their best life possible. Her passion for wellness has led her to explore various approaches to achieving overall health, including diet, exercise, and mindfulness practices. Lena's blog is a culmination of her years of research, experience, and personal journey towards finding balance and well-being. Her mission is to inspire and empower others to make positive changes in their lives and embrace a healthy lifestyle. When she's not writing or coaching clients, you can find Lena practicing yoga, hiking the trails, or experimenting with new healthy recipes in the kitchen.