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A battle with your own mind: understanding depression

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

About 30% of people diagnosed with major depressive disorder struggle with treatment-resistant depression.

If you’re currently receiving treatment for depression, chances are you’ve had to try a few different options before finding one that suits you right, whether it’s the right therapist, antidepressant, relaxation technique, etc. It’s like finding the right bra size for the first time; if you’re lucky and your situation is common, you’ll probably find the right fit on the first or second try. But if your circumstances are a little more unique, you’ll have to try several before you’re truly comfortable. You might lose hope along the way, but there is still a perfect measurement out there for you. And once you find that, you’ll finally feel satisfied with yourself.

Some of us though just can’t find the effective medication or form of therapy no matter how many combinations we try. This is what’s known as treatment-resistant depression. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, treatment-resistant depression is defined as “lingering depression symptoms in patients who have taken multiple antidepressants or antidepressant classes as directed.” I personally have been trying different types of medication for depression since I was 15, from Prozac (the most generic SSRI) to Abilify (an antipsychotic typically used to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder). My mom was a little bit luckier though; she was on Zoloft for a while, but when her depression worsened, her doctor prescribed her with Lexapro, and she has now been on that for over fifteen years.

Related: Coping with a Mental Health Diagnosis 

However, I’ve found over the years that a lot of students in college struggling with their mental health aren’t aware that there are a plethora of treatment options out there to overcome these symptoms, it’s just a matter of staying informed and starting yourself on the road to recovery. I’m lucky, in that I come from a family with a huge medical background, so I’ve been hearing names of treatment options and their illnesses thrown around from a young age. My sister learned all about pharmacology while she was in medical school and taught me the basics of SSRIs, SNRIs, MAOIs, etc. For anyone who is unaware though and would like to learn more, whether it is resources for yourself, a family member, or simply to stay a little bit more up to date on modern psychopathology, here is a resource on medications, here are options for seeking therapy, and here are relaxation techniques approved by certified mental health clinicians.

Even if you don’t struggle with symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s important to educate yourself on different treatment options like specific medication and therapy, since some of your loved ones are probably suffering. Treatments are becoming more accessible to the public. Some organizations like hers offer resources like prescriptions and counseling at affordable prices for those who don’t have health insurance or the means to attend weekly in-person appointments.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma that comes with being prescribed medication or attending therapy for depressive symptoms. People loosely use the term “psychotic” to refer to anyone who might be emotionally struggling. We refer to anyone who’s presently worrying as though they’re having a panic attack. These microaggressions are hurtful and insensitive, but more importantly perpetuate negative ideas about people with mental illness.

Regardless of where you are in the process of discovering the right brand of store-bought serotonin, therapist, or alternative treatment for yourself, know that it will get better. There is light at the end of the tunnel, you are going to feel happy again, and one day you will look in the mirror and be able to say to yourself “I’m so much better now.”

Samanvita Kolachana

George Mason University '25

Samanvita is a new staff writer for George Mason University's Her Campus chapter. She is a junior majoring in Psychology and Foreign Languages with a concentration in Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading, and spending time with friends.