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Top 5 Treatment-Resistant Depression Statistics You Need to Know

May 28, 2021

The very nature of major depressive disorder makes everything harder. Learning that it’s possible to find one’s self afflicted by a treatment-resistant version is borderline unfair.

Yes, almost 30% of major depressive disorders end up being treatment-resistant. As illustrated by these treatment-resistant depression statistics, the phenomenon is gaining attention.

Hope is an important component of treatment for depression, recovery, and remission of symptoms. The tougher the problem, the more people who gravitate towards solving it. Currently, neuroscientists, clinical psychologists, pharmacologists, and more are developing strategies to combat TRD.

The following statistics elaborate on what is known and where research is heading. 

Treatment-Resistant Depression Statistics

The majority of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) diagnosis uses the same definition. That is a depression disorder that doesn’t respond to two or more combinations of pharmacological products. When these methods fail to produce an effect, it is the same as a bacterium being resistant to an antibiotic.

This is not a failure on the part of a patient to recover but an issue with the underlying mechanisms of the products and the body. Essentially, TRD illustrates the lack of total understanding of depression and its causes. 

Monoaminergic antidepressants work for many after modifying doses and teaming up multiple products. Struggling to find a combination that enables a higher quality of life and productivity is not always TRD. 

The most important thing to remember when reviewing these stats is that research is ongoing. What is a problem today won’t be tomorrow. 

Current treatment strategies such as TMS are used as components of individualized treatments.

1. More Common in Women

Major depressive disorder already affects women at a higher rate than other demographics. The underlying reasons are fuzzy but connected to psychological pressures and biological triggers. 

Females are more likely to see issues with both MDD and TRD at a 2.6 ratio to males. This indicates that there are factors in the lives and physiology of women that lead to depression.

Unfortunately, there is always a possibility the prevalence is related to self-reporting and those seeking help. However, current research into pharmacopeia looks to address these differences and build on them for more effective SRIs and other mood stabilizers.

Vulnerability to TRD also relates to the support structures an individual accesses. Underlying conditions exasperate depression. Metabolic and pain disorders are also more common in females, which is another potential reason for this ratio.

2. Medical Cost for TRD Are Double

People with MDD see an increasing rate of TRD diagnosis because of comorbidities and underlying conditions. This, in turn, relates to an increase in medical service costs. 

Those with TRD are twice as likely to suffer from chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and fibromyalgia. Costs, on average, rose from $5,000 to $10,000 for TRD episodes. This is only the costs per visit.

The frequency of episodes is also greater in TRD patients at almost six times the average. 

These figures are based on prevalence studies over a year-long period. It includes emergency care, medication costs, and hospitalizations in addition to unemployment and productivity burdens. 

As with anything that creates a lack of productivity, the ability to keep up with these costs creates a negative feedback loop.

The upside is that the economic impact of TRD is large enough to be noticed. Putting a numerical value to the ephemeral statistics of quality of life helps people notice and take action. 

3. TRD Treatments Mirror Success Rates

That might sound a tad confusing. Basically, 30% of people with depression are diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. Of those, a further 37% resist TRD strategies

This subsection of a subsection provides data that some underlying causes remain unknown. When a sizable group responds differently or not at all to otherwise statistically valid methods, it indicates a larger problem, not a lack of effective tools.

This not insubstantial figure also promotes research. The worst thing for a person fighting for a higher quality of life is to have a problem so rare that it gets ignored. 

Treatment methods for TRD also create opportunities and innovations that find use in treating other disorders. 

4. Unknown Numbers

This is not a pure statistic because it is multiple statistics about depression. The combination approach to treating MDD creates a number of people who have untreated but not necessarily resistant depression.

Taking enough of the right combination of medications can lead to intolerable side effects or an inability to keep up on doses. These numbers change depending on the combination of antidepressants used to provide a significant effect.

If the treatment is so severe that it becomes a problem in itself, it can hardly be called effective. 

Considering people for whom monotherapy or tolerable combination therapy doesn’t work skews some of the other numbers. This is an ongoing target and something to watch for. While not specifically diagnosed with TRD, people in this category would do better to expand their treatment strategies.

That said, they should also work with their doctors and care providers to adjust to therapies. Constant change impedes recovery and makes it harder to construct research. 

5. Common in Bipolar

Another line of data comes from research into bipolar disorders. It is noted that TRD diagnosis applies to 30% of bipolar patients during depressive phases.

This provides more data points for identifying underlying triggers for TDR and MDD.

Issues of TRD only seem to arise when a bipolar patient is in a depressive phase. This requires further investigation to determine if it is a product of neurochemistry or simply masked by manic phases. 

Both scenarios provide further information to help researchers understand more about the issues. 

A Step Beyond

The prevalence of treatment-resistant depression statistics shows how much work is being done. Treatment options are expanding. The most obvious place to go next is away from a pharmacological focus to higher-tech methods.

Our transcranial magnetic stimulation procedure (TMS) is one of these avenues being developed and used effectively. In combination with other treatment strategies, we’re proud to be a part of the 70% of TRD sufferers who find relief and enter remission. Learn more about our TMS procedure here.

Considering TMS Treatment? Schedule a Consultation!

Tired of the results you’re getting from your standard treatment? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation may be able to increase your chances of long-term remission, reducing your symptoms and allowing you to live a more joyful life.




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