How is treatment-resistant major depression (TRMD) treated?

Updated: Aug 06, 2020
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Assuming that the assessment of the diagnosis is correct, there are no significant complicating diagnoses, and the current treatment has been at a therapeutic dose for a sufficient amount of time, possible interventions for persistent symptoms can include the following [8] :

  • Increasing the medication dose to the maximum tolerated

  • Augmenting the current medication with another antidepressant

  • Changing to a different antidepressant

  • Adding psychotherapy or more intensive care if not already completed

  • Considering the use of ECT

The Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial, the largest open-label trial to date, examined various strategies for treatment-resistant depression. The STAR*D trial showed that in patients who did not respond to an initial SSRI (citalopram), switching to another SSRI antidepressant, changing medication class, and switching to CBT were all equally effective treatments. Achieving remission, rather than partial response, was the best predictor of a better long-term prognosis. [168, 169]

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