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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Why is my Depression not getting better after 3 yrs?

    After 3 years of talk therapy and Wellbutrin, I can say that the depression is not as deeply intense, but it seems to have reached a level that has not changed in months. ( I am 52 yo female)

    Like others, I liken it to an elevator in a 50 story ‘building’ of mood, when I started, I was 20 feet below ground. After 3 years, I am now on the 20th floor and it does feel much better. But only in relation to where I began.

    I am still flat, rarely feeling joy and more often than not, I have a low hum of a feeling of hoping that it would be such a relief to not wake up.

    My therapist says it is a long process,,,but is it REALLY not supposed to feel better by now?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 5


    Brenton Harris


    Brenton has worked as a psychologist for the past 7 years beginning his career working for Queensland Health working with people suffering from bipolar disorder, … View Profile

    Hi Hope

    From my perspective (ACT model), feelings of joy only come when someone is able to fully engage in an activity that is meaningful and important. In your case I would look at three potential factors relating to the experience of joy.

    what activities you have in your life that you feel are meaningful.

    If and when you attend to these activities do you find that you are fully present, or away with your thoughts/ trying to control your experience

    Finally, to experience joy, you need to open up to the full spectrum of human experience. Those activities that are important enough to you that you might experience joy, are often also closely tied with some pretty confronting situations that you may wish to avoid. 

    In other words, what you love and what you fear most are poured from the same vessel. And to truly experience moments of joy, you must be open to the possibility of unpleasant emotions in the pursuit of these.

    Hoping not to wake up sounds like a solution to a problem. Would that problem be difficult emotions/ thoughts? If so the problem may your relationship to your emotions. If you see some emotions as the enemy, and some as the end goal, you are likely to struggle with a large part of your experience. This struggle often keeps unpleasant thoughts and emotions around for longer than they otherwise would be, and impact on your ability to be present and open to your day to day experience.

    I hope you find this useful in answering your question :)

  • 1


    Often enough, we do not know our own mind. In the process of dialogue with another person, we are able to clarify what we think … View Profile


    It can take a long time to move from 20 feet underground to the 20th floor and from an outsiders perspective, you have made a lot of progress really - I expect it has taken a lot of hard work and commitment to get this far… I'm wondering if the rooftop is where you're aiming, or whether its just you want to be a few floors closer?

    The research might say, depending on which study we read, that there are other lifestyle things you can do that can help mood - including the mindfulness practices already noted - but there is also exercise, diet sleep  recreation activities and relationships to consider and how they are impacting. Getting to know your own mind through meditation and psychotherapy can also be helpful and it looks like you have worked hard at the latter.

    I would also suggest that it might be worth looking at a women's heath GP expert as there might be physical component to mood that hasn't been fully explored. Just a thought.

    However, it is also possible to get a 2nd opinion regarding both medications and long term therapy. In NSW the best agencies to explore long term therapy with would be ANZAP, NSWIPP or Sydney Institute for Psychoanalysis.

    Its worth pursuing because feeling like you don't want to wake up in the morning on an ongoing basis is a worrying sign and worthy of further investigation.

    Good luck.

  • 1


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Hope, I think that going from "20 feet below ground“ to ”the 20th floor" is a tremendous achievement.

    My clinical psychologist once told me that in her experience recovery from depression is rarely a smooth upwards progession - sometimes people take lots of steps forwards, sometimes people take a few steps backwards and sometimes nothing changes for a while.

    She told me this when I had taken a few steps backwards. Her advice was: Look back and notice just how far you have come."
    A thought which I commend to you.

    With care.

  • DrDave

    HealthShare Member

    Is it possible that what you asre suffering from is not depression per se? I mean if 3 years of talk therapy has not crreated a significant shift in your symtpoms perhaps its time to have a formal assessment to determine whether something else is going on?. Might I suggest you see your GP and discuss further. Best wishes.

  • 1


    I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    As others have suggested, it sounds like you have made a lot of progress in what is a marathon journey toward wellness. Reminding yourself of the progress you have already made when things feel bleak is certainly a useful strategy. Symptoms of depression can be adaptive responses to difficult situations at one time in our life, which then create problems later on. For example, the feeling of 'not wanting to wake up' may develop when someone is in an abusive environment where they are not able to leave. Understanding what purpose the depressive symptoms may have served for you in the past may help you move foward, and to continue to do the hard work of recovery.

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