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When depression symptoms improve after starting an antidepressant, many people need to continue taking medication long term to prevent symptoms from returning.
However, in some people, a particular antidepressant may simply stop working over time. Doctors don't fully understand what causes the so-called "poop-out" effect or antidepressant tolerance — known as tachyphylaxis — or why it occurs in some people and not in others.
There also can be other reasons an antidepressant is no longer working for you, such as:
In most cases, depression symptoms get better with adjustments to medication. Your doctor may recommend that you change the dose of your current antidepressant, change to another antidepressant or add another antidepressant or other type of medication to your current treatment. Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) also may help.
Because there are so many reasons depression treatment can stop working, you may need to see a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness (psychiatrist) to figure out the best course of action.
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
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