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What To Do When a Prescribed Medication Does Not Work

by Dr. Patrick Arbore, Elder Abuse & Depression Expert
July 27, 2012

Question: I’m a senior citizen, and I went to my doctor with problems she’s diagnosed as depression. She prescribed an antidepressant, but it didn’t work. What’s wrong with me?

Answer: First of all, there is nothing wrong with you when a prescribed medication is not effective. Every adult is unique; a medication that is effective for the treatment of depression in one person, may not be effective for another. If you haven’t spoken with your physician about other anti-depressant alternative, I encourage you to do so.  Sometimes physicians rely on only one anti-depressant medication that appears to be effective for most of their patients. If this is the case, ask your physician for a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist for a psychological assessment. A geriatric psychiatrist has much greater experience when diagnosing depression and pharmacologic treatment of elderly depression. You deserve the best care possible.  Speak with your physician and seek a referral.  If a geriatric psychiatrist is not available, inquire about a referral to a psychiatrist known to your physician. You may also want to speak to your local pharmacist who is an unsung hero when it comes to medication knowledge. I wish you all the best.  

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Dr. Patrick Arbore is the Founder and Director of the Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services (CESP), a program offered by the Institute on Aging in San Francisco. Dr. Arbore conducts workshops and lectures locally and nationally on aging-related subjects. He is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on suicide prevention, bereavement, suffering, etc., including a chapter he co-authored in the book, “When Professionals Weep".

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Your Answers and Comments

George Wilkins on Apr 27, 2013 10:57 AM
I agree speaking with a pharmacist at any of your local retail drugstores can be quite helpful. They often do not have the opportunity to impart their vast knowledge they gained with 4-5 years of pharm. school to customers. They also know a lot about <a href="http://www.drug-alcohol-rehabs.org/prescription-drugs.html">prescription drug treatment</a>.

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