If you believe that you are suffering from depression, you must first visit your family doctor who will conduct a thorough checkup. There are many medical conditions like female hormone changes, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid conditions and mineral deficiencies that can lead to depression. Also, some medicines could have depression as one of the side effects. If your family doctor does not find any health problem, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.
If you are seeing a specialist for depression, it is important that you approach a person who is qualified to give you advice. If you visit your family doctor, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants but may not be qualified to treat depression. Most family doctors cannot offer psychotherapy because they don’t have experience or qualification for prescribing medications for depression.
Questions you must ask
Since the symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, it is important that you analyze the situation you are in before you approach a healthcare provider. Here are a few important questions you must ask yourself before approaching a doctor or therapist.
What kind of health expert should I approach?
People, who suffer from symptoms of depression, usually see several experts. Some people not only visit a therapist but also a doctor to get medication. If you have health insurance, it is a good idea to call your insurance provider to find out the cover offered by them for depression. If psychological therapy is not covered, you could approach a therapist who offers sliding scale based on your income.
How do I find a good psychiatrist or therapist?
You could ask your family doctor for help or you could contact organizations like National Alliance for Mentally Ill who can suggest good experts in your area. Make sure the healthcare professional you approach for treatment is a licensed practitioner as there are many quacks that claim to be qualified therapist.
What should I consider when selecting a psychiatrist or therapist?
Psychiatrist and therapist use several approaches. Some therapist may focus on practical or day-to-day issues to understand your problem, while others may go deeper into your past to understand the cause of the problem. So talk to a few psychiatrist or therapist and find out the approach they are going to use. If you are comfortable with the approach, you can continue with the psychiatrist or therapist. However, if you don’t find the approach useful, you can always find someone else.
What if the approach used by the psychiatrist or therapist fails?
Once you have settled for a psychiatrist or therapist and a doctor, you must give the treatment a chance to work. Dealing with symptoms of depression is not easy and it may take you several months to come out of this problem. Initially you may find the therapy difficult as it is not easy to open up to new people about personal incidents of your life. However, after a few sessions you are likely to get better.
Importance of selecting the right professional
Unlike other medical fields, psychiatry is an art that deals with human behaviour. Giving medication for depression is not as easy as giving medication for cold or flu. Some people require a few trials of medicines to find out which medicine is best suited to relieve their symptom. Many people may need more than one medicine to counteract the side effects of the problem and to improve positivity. At times, medications are not enough to deal with the problem. You may require a proper mix of psychotherapy and medicines to deal with the situation. Selecting the right professional will help in correct diagnosis of the problem. For example, some specialists misdiagnose bipolar disorder as depression because the symptoms of both the problems are similar. Even though the symptoms of both the problems are similar, they both require a completely different treatment.
Many people prefer visiting a psychologist or a counselor for their initial evaluation. This may help a few people but most people have to visit psychiatrists because they are qualified to prescribe medication. If the symptoms of depression are because of chemical imbalance in your body, counseling sessions are not enough to deal with the situation. It is in your interest to visit a psychiatrist who can offer psychotherapy and prescribe medication. This two-pronged attack on the problem will help you in finding an easy solution of your problem.
When you visit a psychiatrist, don’t be surprised if your doctor refers you to a non-medical professional who will handle your therapy sessions. While your doctor will be responsible for your medication, the talk therapist will help you understand your mental state which will make it easier for you to deal with the symptoms of the problem. The role of talk therapist in treating depression has increased in the past few years because the biological basis of mental illness and depression has changed.
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