How To Find (And Work With) A “Depression Doctor”
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Depression affects over 7 percent of the population over the age of 12 in the United States. Being depressed is not a reason to feel ashamed or excluded. Many people feel depressed at least once in their lives. Sometimes sadness can be overcome with the loving support of friends and family, but often depression requires clinical treatment to be resolved. Here's what you need to know about how to find and work with a depression doctor for your depression.
Start With The Basics
According to experts, the first place to start when you are feeling depressed is with your primary care doctor. You should bring up feelings of depression to your doctor because they can help you determine your next steps. Your doctor will likely want to run several blood tests so that they can determine if your symptoms are related to physical health conditions or mental health. After the tests are run, if your doctor feels you may have depression, they will refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for additional diagnosis and treatment.
If your primary care doctor is not familiar with depression and doesn't feel comfortable helping you with a possible diagnosis, you might need to start elsewhere to find a depression doctor. There are several places that you can go to help you find resources to get help in the diagnosis and treatment of depression.
Working With A Depression Doctor
You must be fully engaged in your treatment for depression. When working with a depression doctor, you must be completely honest in your communications about your thoughts, feelings, and symptoms. You should fully participate in any psychotherapy, and you should take your medications as prescribed.
If you have concerns about medications for depression, talk to your depression doctor openly about your concerns. They may be able to address your concerns and answer your questions so that you are more comfortable taking the medication. If you have a real problem with the medication, they may be able to provide you with some alternatives. You mustn't stop taking medication without talking to your doctor first.
Psychotherapy is another form of depression treatment that is usually necessary for a full treatment of mental illness. Psychotherapy differs from doctor to doctor and patient to patient. The same approach does not work for everyone. Make sure that you are communicating effectively with your therapist so that they know what is working for you and what is not so that therapy can be adjusted accordingly.
During psychotherapy, you will have sessions with your therapist, usually of a half-hour to an hour. You may have sessions once or twice a week or twice a month, depending on your schedule, your therapist's schedule, and your treatment needs. At the end of your session, your therapist will likely give you homework assignments. These homework assignments are important for continuing your depression treatment and allowing psychotherapy to do its job. You must complete all of the activities that your therapist assigns to you if you want your depression treatment to be successful. If you have a problem with an assignment you are given, discuss it with your therapist rather than simply refusing to do it.
Don't Give Up
Some depression doctors can be difficult to work with. Some of them tend to think that they are always right, and they do not take into consideration your thoughts or feelings about your treatment. If you are willing to do as you are told simply, this can be an effective method of treatment. However, if you tend to question things, and you want to be more involved in treatment decisions, you may need to find another doctor.
There is nothing wrong with trying out different depression doctors until you find the one that will help you the most. Many people go through several mental healthcare providers until they find someone that they connect with. This connection, open communication, and a meeting of all of your needs are important for the successful treatment of depression. Don't be afraid to switch doctors, but also make sure that you are not giving up on yourself or your treatment. If one depression doctor doesn't seem to be able to help you, try another one and another one until you find the right treatment plan and doctor for you.
Types Of Depression Doctors
There are two main types of depression doctors. A psychiatrist can provide you with diagnosis and medication treatment for your depression. Many psychiatrists can also help with psychotherapy. It is generally accepted that a combination of medication and therapy is the best treatment for depression.
Another type of depression doctor is a psychologist. A psychologist is also able to diagnose depression, and they can provide you with psychotherapy to treat your symptoms. However, psychologists cannot prescribe medication.
At some clinics that offer depression treatment, you may run into other professionals that can help you. Nurse practitioners often take the place of psychiatrists in clinics. Nurse practitioners are nurses with specialized education who can prescribe medications like a psychiatrist, and they work directly under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist. There are also licensed counselors and therapists that are not psychologists but have advanced degrees that allow them to administer psychotherapy appropriately.
Often people will interact with more than one depression doctor throughout their treatment. You may have one doctor to prescribe medications and another doctor to provide psychotherapy. Both doctors should be within the same practice, or at least be in communication with one another to provide the best level of treatment.
Places To Find A Depression Doctor
If you have medical insurance that covers mental health, one of the first places you might want to start is with your health insurance company. They can provide you with a list of depression doctors that can assist you who are covered by your health insurance. If you do not have health insurance coverage, you may want to call around to different doctors and clinics to find the cheapest option.
You can also get referrals to depression doctors from your primary care doctor, friends, family, and depression support groups. Your local community may also have resources for mental health professionals for people who are financially unstable and do not have health coverage.
Local communities, particularly in larger cities, often have mental health clinics that offer free or discounted services to those who are financially unable to pay. You can locate community resources such as these through your local chamber of commerce, your primary care doctor, or other resources. BetterHelp and other online counseling services also have lists of local resources to help you find depression treatment if you require more services than what can be provided on the online counseling platform.
Alternatives To Traditional Depression Doctor
Another alternative to finding a depression doctor is to contact an online counseling service. Online counseling services are very affordable and can often help with psychotherapy. Most of the therapists on online counseling platforms cannot prescribe medications, however, so you may still need to find a brick and mortar clinic to go to for this purpose. On the other hand, some primary care doctors are also willing to prescribe antidepressants. This can be a good option if your health insurance covers primary care but not mental health.
It is very easy to get started with an online counseling service. A quick sign up usually allows you to be matched with a licensed therapist in your state easily. Beware of online counseling platforms that match you with a therapist from another state. Most licensures are by the state only, so a therapist licensed in one state may not be licensed in another. You want to make sure that the help you are getting is from a licensed therapist that will be able to work with your other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive depression treatment.
One of the best online counseling platforms is BetterHelp. BetterHelp therapists are available at all hours of the day and night, every day of the week, including holidays. These therapists can help you locate local resources for depression treatment. They can also provide psychotherapy to help you manage your depression symptoms while you are looking for a depression doctor to prescribe medications. These therapists are unable to prescribe medications, but you will have other options for that level of treatment.
BetterHelp offers several convenient ways to participate in online therapy sessions. You can use voice chat, text chat, or video chat, either through your smartphone or through the online platform. All you need is a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and a quiet and private place to hold your session. This place can be your bedroom, bathroom, car, or an empty room at work on your lunch break, whatever is convenient for you.
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