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Signs of a Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorder

Many patient who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder suffer with episodes of depression that don’t respond to first-line treatments such as psychotherapy and medications. 

You may have a treatment-resistant mood disorder if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • You have tried two or more antidepressant medications with little to no long-term symptom improvement. 
  • Psychotherapy and medications aren’t enough to decrease your symptoms significantly. 
  • You experience periods of treatment success, but then your symptoms return with severity. 

Your provider will rule out other health conditions and mental health disorders to diagnose a treatment-resistant mood disorder. At the Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders (TRMD) Clinic, our specialists will pinpoint the condition associated with your symptoms and find treatments that can help bring you relief.

What Is Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Treatment-resistant depression is a type of mood disorder in which you may feel persistent sadness, irritability, or loss of pleasure, interest, or motivation despite trying medications and psychotherapy.

You may have major depressive disorder, in which you experience prolonged, intense sadness. Or you may have bipolar disorder, in which you experience episodes of depression and periods of mania (intensely excitable or elevated moods).  

Why Choose the TRMD Clinic?

Our TRMD specialists at Huntsman Mental Health Institute (HMHI) have decades of experience. The TRMD clinic is the only one in Utah that offers a full range of neurostimulation treatments for treatment-resistant mood disorders, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

We are one of the highest volume programs in the Mountain West region and continually offer new treatment options through clinical trials. We lead one of the largest ECT programs in the country, providing 6,000 to 7,000 treatments each year. Our TMS program is also among the busiest, providing more than 4,000 treatments annually. 

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Risk Factors for Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders

There are no known risk factors for treatment-resistant mood disorders. Some mood disorders tend to run in families. But experts don’t know exactly why some people respond to traditional treatments and others don’t. 

What Causes Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Researchers don’t know what causes treatment-resistant depression. A combination of genetics, chemical changes in your brain, and life experiences can contribute to depression. But experts usually don’t identify one definitive cause of your depression. 

How Common Are Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders?

It’s difficult to know how common treatment-resistant mood disorders are, especially as many people don’t seek further treatment. Estimates show that up to about one-third of people with depression have treatment-resistant symptoms.

Treatments for Medication-Resistant Mood Disorders

The TRMD Clinic offers several treatments for medication-resistant mood disorders.

When to Seek Help

Many people wait until they’ve tried multiple medications over several years before seeking additional treatment for a mood disorder. But you don’t have to try more than two medications or medication combinations before exploring other options. Speak with your psychiatrist or other health care provider about referrals and additional treatments if you’ve tried two or more medications without relief.

Refer a Patient to the TRMD Clinic

The TRMD Clinic psychiatrists at University of Utah Health offer comprehensive, evidence-based treatments, including neuromodulation and ketamine infusions, to decrease your mental health condition symptoms and improve your quality of life. Refer a patient by filling out our referral form, or learn more by calling 801-587-3297. 

Mental Health Crisis Resources

We are here for you when you need us the most. Our team of professionals are trained in:

  • mental health crisis management,
  • suicide prevention, and
  • emotional wellness.

HMHI provides the following specialty programs and resources for you and your loved ones to prevent mental health crises and provide emotional support when needed.

Meet Our Patients

Electroconvulsive Therapy Provides Hope for Husband and Father Struggling with Bipolar Disorder

Chris struggled with mixed bipolar disorder episodes—a dangerous mix of severe depression and mania that keeps him hyper-focused on thoughts of suicide. He tried numerous medications and lifestyle changes, but wasn't responding well to either. After his sixth attempted suicide, he was referred to the Treatment Resistant Mood Disorders Clinic and tried electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to stabilize his moods. ECT gave him the chance to be a dad and husband again.

Picture of Chris and his wife Annalaura

Watch Miranda's Story

Miranda Riley was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts in 2021. When medication and therapy wasn’t working, Miranda’s therapist suggested electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The treatment ended up giving her the relief she needed. "Everybody has different results," Riley said. "But for me, it was absolutely life changing." 

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