It sucks to feel sad, tired, and irritated all the time… especially when it feels like it’s never going to end. Depression is treatable, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to feel better and move on.
If you’ve been waiting for depression to go away on its own, it might be time to start looking into treatment options. You can seek professional help from a doctor or therapist, but there are also lots of things you can do to feel better on your own.
Treatments might take a while to work
Depression is a long-term illness, and it won’t go away overnight. Antidepressant medications can take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to kick in, and sometimes longer to reach their full effect. Therapy is generally considered more effective than medication, and many people feel better after just a few sessions. But it’s still hard to predict how long it will take to see long-term results. You never know when you’ll have a major breakthrough.
It’s also possible for a treatment to stop working after a while, or not work as well as it used to. You might have to switch medications, change your dosage, or take several medications at once. Try telling your doctor or therapist that you feel stuck—they can help you find new things to try.
You might have to try multiple treatment options
Depression is a complex condition, with multiple causes and many different symptoms. Sometimes a single treatment will target one or two of those, but not all of them. In that case, combining a few different treatments at once can make recovery more likely. For example, therapy and medication are often more effective when used together than either one on their own. 
If you’ve mostly tried therapy and medication, try making some lifestyle changes, like eating right and exercising or finding a new hobby. On the other hand, if you’ve avoided therapy and medication in the past, maybe it’s time to give them another look.
Dealing with treatment-resistant depression
If you’ve tried lots of different treatments for a long time and you still feel depressed, you might have treatment-resistant depression (TRD). If a doctor diagnoses you with TRD, it opens up some less common treatment options, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or injectable mental health drugs like ketamine. But there are other ways to keep fighting too:
- Look for underlying causes. Sometimes depression is actually a sign of a deeper issue. If that’s the case, treating the depression is only treating the symptom, not the cause. Is there a medical condition that might be contributing? Have you had your thyroid and hormones checked? What about your environment—are you in a toxic relationship or a depressing job?
- Get screened for other mental illnesses. Lots of people have more than one mental illness. They can feed off each other. Take one of our other mental health tests to find out if that’s a possibility.
- Cuijpers et al. (2014). Adding psychotherapy to antidepressant medication in depression and anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis. World Psychiatry 13(1), pp. 56-67. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002%2Fwps.20089