It\u2019s often said by medical and mental health professionals alike that depression is one of the most treatable mental health disorders. While that\u2019s true to a point, treatment for depression isn\u2019t always as helpful as many people would like. Not only is it discouraging when treatment isn\u2019t working, it can make you feel more hopeless than ever. But before you throw your medication in the garbage or fire your therapist, it\u2019s important to consider the various reasons -\u2013 and there are several -\u2013 that may be part or all of the problem. Rather than assume you\u2019re destined to be depressed for the rest of your life, or conclude that therapy is a waste of time and antidepressants are just another way for \u201cbig pharma\u201d to take more of your hard-earned money, keep reading. The real reason (or reasons) may be more subtle. It may be that once you make a change in one or two areas, you\u2019ll find that improvements in your mood really can occur. Here are some common hindrances to effective depression treatment: 1 \u2013 You\u2019re not following your treatment regimen. Let\u2019s face it \u2013 most people aren\u2019t very good patients. Your depression treatment provider is not a miracle worker -- his or her efforts to help you are going to be futile if you don\u2019t do your part. For example, if you\u2019re taking an antidepressant but are frequently skipping doses or not taking it as prescribed, it\u2019s not going to help you. Also, if your therapist gives you homework assignments, suggests changes you can make, or encourages you to try out some new behaviors and you don\u2019t follow through, the benefits of therapy will be extremely limited. It needs to be a two-way street. Talking can be cathartic, but usually much more is required to reap the real benefits. 2 \u2013 You\u2019re using alcohol and\/or drugs (any drugs that are illegal or not prescribed for you). While some may argue that an occasional cocktail or glass of wine is relatively harmless, alcohol is a depressant. It\u2019s generally best avoided if you struggle with depression. Frequent, regular, or periodic heavy use can exacerbate your depression and make it difficult to get better. If you\u2019re abusing drugs of any kind, those also need to go. If you can\u2019t stop drinking or using, or if stopping abruptly could trigger withdrawal symptoms, then alcohol and drug treatment is essential. Your treatment provider can help you find a good rehab program and help coordinate your treatment. The latter ensures that everyone\u2019s on the same page. Another reason alcohol and drug use is a problem is that substances can easily become a crutch. You may be drinking or using to self-medicate, which significantly interferes with any type of treatment for depression. You must let your treatment provider(s) know about your use. Keeping secrets from your physician or mental health provider is a serious problem, and begs the question of why you\u2019re in treatment at all. Do you really want to overcome your depression? 3 \u2013 There\u2019s too much stress in your life. Stress interferes with both physical and psychological healing. If you\u2019re under a lot of stress and \/ or are unable to manage stress adequately, your depression treatment is going to suffer. Period. It\u2019s akin to expecting a burn on your hand to heal while you continue to hold it over a flame. While some stress is a natural and normal part of life, too much is destructive. Find healthy ways to reduce stress, such as regular exercise, yoga, meditation, and \/ or relaxation techniques. If situational factors are causing a lot of stress, work with your therapist to determine the best way to handle them. 4 \u2013 You have physical health issues that aren\u2019t being addressed. Various medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, can trigger or exacerbate symptoms of depression. You may have an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition that\u2019s keeping you from getting better or even causing your depression. Talk to your primary physician about having a medical workup or physical \u2013- especially if you haven\u2019t had one in many years. 5 - You\u2019re not getting good sleep. Depression can really interfere with healthy sleep patterns, and sleep-deprivation can wreak havoc with your mood. Troubles falling asleep, staying asleep, and \/ or frequently waking up before your alarm are common symptoms of depression. However, those can be improved when properly addressed. Practicing good "sleep\u201d hygiene\u201d is a vital step toward overcoming your depression. Talk to your treatment provider about ways you can improve your sleep. 6 \u2013 You have unrealistic expectations. Let\u2019s face it; treatment benefits take time to manifest, and a lot of people get impatient. If you expect immediate miracles from medication or therapy, you\u2019re going to be sorely disappointed. Talk to your treatment providers about what you can realistically expect in terms of getting better. Therapy is a process, and medication is often a trial-and-error endeavor. Patience is essential if you want to see real, lasting, results. You may not click with your first therapist, and antidepressants often require trial and error before finding the right one and the right dose. 7 \u2013 You don\u2019t have a good support system. One of the many potential symptoms of depression is social isolation. It\u2019s often easier to just stay alone or away from everyone than try to socialize. Sadly, though, staying isolated is likely to keep you depressed. We all need positive human interaction, and we all need support from others. Granted, if your relationships with those closest to you (e.g., family members or a spouse), are toxic, you may need to create some distance, sever ties, and\/or seek support elsewhere. A support group is one option. Work with your therapist to find ways to expand and enhance your support system. 8 \u2013 You\u2019re not exercising. It may sound too simple, but regular exercise is very beneficial when it comes to alleviating symptoms of depression. In fact, studies have shown that regular exercise can be just as effective for depression as taking an antidepressant. If you\u2019re getting treatment for depression but living a sedentary lifestyle, it\u2019s time to change (with your doctor\u2019s okay, of course). Even if it\u2019s just walking for 20 or 30 minutes four or five times a week, getting yourself moving will help your mood. It will also help you sleep more soundly. Everyone responds to treatment differently. However, consider the things listed above to determine if you there are some things you can change to boost your depression treatment and help yourself get better. It\u2019s a process, so be patient with yourself. But you\u2019ll likely find that by making some small changes on your own, you will feel more empowered and more in control of your life -\u2013 and that will also benefit your depression!