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What to do when a treatment does not work?

logo for Vik Atopic Dermatitis

By : Vik

About 1 year ago

Last month, I talked to you about wandering from doctor to doctor, with no clarity on our health pathway or improvement on our symptoms.  

I tried many treatments that did not work, methods or diets that only brought me more despair. I sometimes felt like things would never change.  

But it's possible, and here are 5 practices that can help you not to give up when your treatment doesn't work the way you hoped.  

Take a breath, step back. 

While being in pain it is sometimes difficult to take a step back. Relaxation, sophrology or conscious breathing are wonderful allies to take that needed step back.  
These techniques allow you to focus on your body, to distance yourself from your feelings and thoughts. Breathing has helped me so many times to get through suffering. You don't need to "succeed at meditation". You just need to breathe and be present by feeling different parts of your body.  

There are wonderful days when the pain or the disease leaves us, and others when the symptoms come back with a vengeance. That’s why I've adopted the method of "Enjoy it when it's good, and don't worry too much when it's not."  
Remember: “Nothing is permanent, everything changes”.  

Don’t doubt yourself; this is not a step backwards.   

Our mind tends to generate thoughts like:  

  • "I'll never get through this".   
  • "Nothing is evolving".  
  • "This treatment is still a failure". 
  • "I'm not able to do the right thing".   

Try to stop them. And more important, try to change them:  

  • “You are taking another step in the right direction”.  
  • “If the treatment isn’t working, there is a rational reason”.  
  • “You’re doing your best; this is not your fault”.  

If an attack or a flare up occurs, this is additional information to understand your triggers and aggravating factors. If you are worried about the symptoms, see a doctor. Sometimes we have additional conditions that make us feel that the treatment is not working.   

This can be the case with atopic dermatitis, for example, where we treat the inflammation, but we actually have an infection. Or with asthma, which may have worsened because of an allergy or infection.   

Take care of yourself and get back to basics 

Although we often need medical help, I believe it is essential to take some responsibility for our return to health. I always have a list of basics to help my body get back into balance.  

For me the essentials are:   

- Breathe consciously.  

- Cultivate thoughts that help you: “I’m doing my best”, “It’s temporary”; “Difficult things happen to good people too”. 

- Move as much as possible. Walking in nature, yoga movements or practicing a sport according to your possibilities.  

- Return to an anti-inflammatory diet by reducing gluten, dairy products and sugar.  


These tricks usually help me soothe the attacks, reduce the symptoms and most importantly, regain faith. Faith that it will eventually get better, that this is just a rough patch. 
I try to say myself that I can handle this flare up differently than the last one, because I’ve learned since then. That I will get through this, just as I got through the previous ones. Things will challenge me again. Even though I feel like I never get a break, and that it’s because I’m not doing the right thing, I remember that hard things happen to good people too. That’s just life.  
"Hard things happen to good people too."  

Change your approach and reconsider your expectations 

It is important to remember that a treatment or therapy that works for one person may not work for you. Medicine and alternative therapy knowledge is progressing. There are lots of things that can help you get back to a more comfortable life, despite a chronic illness.   

Take a breath, but don't give up. Your life is too precious for that.  

Sometimes our expectations are too high. Don't forget that a chronic illness leads to possible flare ups. Sometimes a treatment can be considered successful because it has:   
- reduced the intensity or number of attacks. 

- increased the quality of your daily life or sleep.  

You may also ask yourself whether you have followed the recommendations to the letter, given the treatment enough time, have unanswered questions, or whether your expectations are realistic.  

Observe what you have done and/or adapt your care.  

Make notes to discuss them with the healthcare professional is charge of you. Sometimes treatments take several months to work fully. Sometimes you need to adjust the dosage or complement the treatment with a healthy lifestyle.   

For example, treating an inflammation with a drug, while on the other hand continuing to inflame our bodies, can prevent the treatment from working. This may take place by cultivating behaviors that deplete our system or generate excessive stress, a harmful environment or an inappropriate diet.   

There is always a new way to take action to try to see things from a new perspective. I believe that mindset is the key to a return to more comfortable health.  

Success is not just about being completely cured or having all your symptoms gone. Not necessarily or not right away.  

So yes, things can get better, they can get comfortable again. Maybe not right away, but one day they will.   

Of course, if your treatments don't work, don't hesitate to go back to your doctor.   

What sentence will you keep in the back of your mind for those difficult moments?  

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