Improving your likelihood of antidepressant medication response

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

As of 2014, about 15.7 million people in the US had at least 1 major depressive episode in the last year, and about two thirds of the individuals had a severe impairment in their ability to manage at home, work/school, or relationships with others (1).

Treatment options for major depression include counseling, medications, life-style, and other strategies. These options can be used alone or in combination with each other.

A recent study looked at a major factor impacting your response to antidepressant medication for major depression.

How do you define depression?

A major depressive episode is defined as an episode of depressed mood or loss of pleasure in daily activities lasting 2 weeks or longer in the past 12 months and at least some additional symptoms, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-worth (2).  Additionally there must be some impairment in a person’s ability to function at home, work, relationships or social settings.

What was the study? (3)

792 patients receiving usual care for depression in 83 clinics for at least six months between 2008 and 2010 (4).

How was depression measured?

Depression was measured using, Patient Health Questionnaire–9, a validated instrument to measure the severity and treatment response to depression (3,4).

Was there a key finding?

According to the study article, patients reporting fair or poor health were significantly less likely to improve depression compared with patients with good, very good, or excellent health (3).

What do the results mean?

In my practice, I often discuss the mental health benefits of healthy lifestyle habits such as healthy eating habits, healthy (not excessive) exercise, adequate sleep, avoidance of alcohol, illicit drugs; yoga, meditation, etc.

This study suggests that individuals suffering from Major Depression with good overall health had a better chance of benefiting from antidepressant medications than those with depression who reported fair or poor health.

In other words, while good overall health might help many people with depression, if you are still depressed, having good overall health improves your chances of responding to medications.

This is a small study and further studies would be helpful.

What are some resources regarding health improvement?

What are some of OSU’s campus resources that might help with reducing depression?

What are some resources regarding depression?

Counseling at the OSU Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service
• Mindfulness and Body scan techniques at the OSU Wexner Medical Center
Depression information at the National Institute of Mental Health
Anonymous mental health screen
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.


  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2015). Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 15-4927, NSDUH Series H-50). Retrieved from
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
  3. Rossom RC, et. al.  Predictors of Poor Response to Depression Treatment in Primary Care.  Published online: July 15, 2016. Psychiatric Services in Advance (doi: 10.1176/
  4. Kroenke K, Spitzer RL, Williams JBW. The PHQ-9: Validity of a Brief Depression Severity Measure.J Gen Intern Med. 2001 September; 16(9): 606–613.