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What Type of Doctor Should I See for Depression Treatment?

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Updated May 09, 2013

Question: What Type of Doctor Should I See for Depression Treatment?
Answer: Although there is some controversy over whether therapy, drugs or a combination of both are best for depression, there is really one type of doctor who is qualified to treat depression and other mood disorders using medications: a psychiatrist. A psychologist, also qualified to treat depression, is not a medical doctor and therefore cannot prescribe drugs. A psychologist specializes in talk therapy. If you are uncertain whether you need medications, it is best to begin your treatment under the care of a psychiatrist. If you will also benefit from talk therapy, psychiatrists are generally able to handle this as well, although some may elect to refer you to another therapist.

Keep in mind that you should not skip your primary care provider altogether. In fact, depending upon your insurance coverage, you may have to see him/her in order to get a referral. Your primary care provider does play a very important role, both in screening you for possible mood disorders and in screening for other illnesses that may mimic depression symptoms (such as hypothyroid, nutrient deficiencies, and drug reactions). Once it is determined that you are healthy and may possibly have a mood disorder, however, your doctor should make you a referral to a specialist who is qualified to make a diagnosis and treat you. If your doctor does not offer to make this referral, insist upon it. After all, you are paying your doctor for a service. You have the right to expect care from a qualified expert.

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