Treatment-resistant depression: New therapies on the horizon

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15 Scopus citations


Managing patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) remains a major challenge for the practicing physician. Depression is considered treatment-resistant when at least two adequate monotherapy trials with drugs from different pharmacologic classes fail to elicit a therapeutic response. Although determining the stage of TRD may allow concise description of a patient's antidepressant history, management of TRD is better served by recent attempts to create a treatment algorithm that encompasses definitive diagnosis of true TRD and strategies for optimizing available therapies, including consideration of novel treatment options. Present strategies for managing TRD include optimization of the initial drug, substitution of another drug from the same or a different antidepressant class, combination of two antidepressants with different mechanisms of action, and adding an antidepressant drug from another class. Potential nonpharmacologic treatments include vagus nerve stimulation, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, and magnetic seizure therapy as an alternative to electroconvulsive therapy. Several neuropeptides and their receptors have also been identified as potential targets for pharmacologic intervention, including corticotropin-releasing factor and substance P. Other treatments currently under investigation include augmentation of antidepressant therapy with an atypical antipsychotic agent such as olanzapine or risperidone. This kind of therapeutic intervention may prove to be especially useful in treating patients with TRD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-70
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003


  • Antidepressant nonresponse
  • Depression
  • Drug-resistant major depression
  • Treatment-resistant depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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