Some individuals with a substance use disorder or mental health condition do not respond well to standard treatment. Their symptoms persist, even after trying multiple types of therapies and medication. This article will discuss why treatment resistance may occur and how it can be resolved. Neurofeedback is a viable brain therapy for those with various conditions, including treatment-resistance disorders.
How to Know if You Are Resistant to Treatment
Treatment resistance is a common occurrence in the field of mental health treatment. Approximately 20-60% of clients with psychiatric disorders are impacted by treatment resistance. This can look like dealing with the same abandonment issues after years of therapy and trying different techniques. It can also look like antidepressants failing to improve mood despite testing various medications and dosages for long periods. Someone struggling with addiction may be in and out of rehab for years.
Generally, doctors confirm treatment resistance when:
- the client has received the correct diagnosis
- they have received an adequate course of treatment
- their symptoms have not improved
More detailed criteria depend on the condition(s), the medications and therapies being tested, and the client.
Which Disorders Does This Affect?
Treatment resistance has been found in clients with several conditions, such as:
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Substance use disorders
- Bipolar affective disorder
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
Reasons This Condition Can Develop
Why a client has become unresponsive to treatment can be a difficult question to answer. One article points to reasons such as the client not complying with the treatment plan or being unable to tolerate the adverse effects of medication. Perhaps they did not get the proper dosage or need a more extended treatment period.
The article also notes that standard treatments may be ineffective. The common practice may be missing insights into the condition’s root cause(s). This may stem from an inadequate understanding of the biological abnormalities of a given disorder.
It could also be the case where the doctor misdiagnoses the client despite the belief that the correct diagnosis has been made. This can happen if the doctor is unaware of co-occurring conditions like addiction, or if there is a condition subtype at work. Alternatively, the client could be experiencing brain health issues, like a traumatic brain injury or chronic infection.
Complications Down the Line
When treatment does not work, it can be very frustrating. This burden can significantly affect relationships, career plans, and overall well-being. Clients may become angry at themselves and wonder, “What is wrong with me?” They may start to question if they will ever feel normal and whether trying is even worth it. Suicidal thoughts may take hold, putting the individual at risk of self-harm. Feeling like a failure can weigh heavy on a person’s mind and exacerbate their current condition(s).
When the old ways do not work anymore, up-and-coming therapies that target the processes of the brain may be a promising way forward.
Neurofeedback Therapy Can Help
The human brain can change in structure and function over the course of a person’s life. Positive and negative experiences shape the way the brain operates. Neurofeedback is a therapy that takes advances on the brain’s neuroplasticity. The end goal is to improve the client’s mental health by reinforcing healthy brainwave patterns and teaching self-control of brain functions. Neurofeedback is increasingly being used to help clients experiencing resistance to treatment, particularly for depression.
This non-invasive neurobiological approach may be an effective alternative in cases where medication and therapy are not enough.
Understanding the Process
Facilities like Avalon Malibu offer this innovative treatment for those struggling with symptoms of mental illness and developmental disorders like ADHD.
The clinician will first map the client’s brain activity to understand how they diverge from “normal” brain activity. Certain areas may be functioning abnormally, contributing to addiction or mental disorders. By doing this, the clinician can determine which areas of the brain to target in therapy. Next, an individualized treatment protocol is created—the protocol outlines where brainwaves will be stimulated or inhibited.
How Auditory & Visual Feedback Are Used
During therapy, a client monitors their brain activity while watching a movie or playing a game. For example, the picture and sound will appear if they are calm and focused. The feedback will be hard to see and hear if the client is stressed. In order to fix this malfunction, the brain will create new connections. Through repeated sessions, the client gets better at regulating their mind. This is accompanied by fewer mental health symptoms and improvements in executive function.
The world of mental health is constantly evolving. There is always more to learn about disorders, including the best way to treat a particular individual. Many clients find themselves unresponsive to medications and therapy, despite the many trials and errors they have experienced. Neurofeedback is a unique therapy that works to modify brain activity. It is a different pathway to healing from conditions that have proven difficult to treat. Avalon Malibu is a mental health and addiction treatment center in Malibu, CA. We are nationally recognized by the Joint Commission and licensed by California state. Neurofeedback therapy is provided in a safe and comfortable environment by one of our experienced therapists. This therapy gives clients control by teaching them how to control their thought processes. Neurofeedback is a promising option for those struggling to improve. Call us today at (844) 857-5992.