What kind of doctor to see for depression?


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Page last updated: 24/10/2022

What kind of doctor to see for depression?

In this article, we will give you a list of doctors to see for depression. Furthermore, we will see what to expect from a doctor, is one doctor enough, signs of a good doctor, and how a doctor diagnoses depression. 

What kind of doctor to see for depression? 

Here is a list of doctors to see for depression: 

  • General practitioner 
  • Psychiatrist 
  • Psychologist 
  • Counselor 
  • Social worker 
  • Psychiatric nurse 

General practitioner

If you are facing the symptoms of depression and unaware of what to do, you can certainly visit your general practitioner or your family doctor. General practitioners are usually doctors who have undergone 4 years of medical school, followed by a residency. General practitioners are not mental health professionals who can treat you with depression entirely. However, a few general practitioners do prescribe antidepressants. In addition, if your general partitioner feels the need, he or she may provide you with a few well-known psychiatrists or psychologists. 


Instead of a general practitioner, you can also visit your psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a licensed practitioner who undergoes four years of medical school, with additional 4 years of specialization in psychiatry. Psychiatrists are usually doctors who specialize in medications for mental health disorders. Some psychiatrists also use psychotherapy with medication. Visiting a psychiatrist can help you deal with your emotions. Psychotherapy with the combination of medications is seen as the best treatment for clinical depression. 


Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are professionals with a doctorate degree in most of the states. They specialize in talk therapy or psychotherapy. Most psychologists do not prescribe any medications. They use psychotherapy for the treatment of various mental health conditions. After obtaining their degree, they would usually have to gain experience through internships for more than a year. Similar to psychiatrists, psychologists need a license to practice individually. They help their client to deal with all the emotional problems on the daily basis.  

What kind of doctor to see for depression?


A mental health counselor usually has training for two or three years. Post their training, they can focus on school counseling, community counseling, marriage and family counseling, or substance abuse counseling. Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, they cannot prescribe any medications. They only use therapies especially talk therapies to help the clients with day to day problems. Many states require counselors to be licensed by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). 

Social worker 

Social workers need a master’s degree in order to provide talk therapy. The education lasts for 2 years. They are trained to help individuals with emotional situations. Although social workers have less schooling than psychologists, they can be just as helpful. They also can’t prescribe any medications. 

Psychiatric nurse 

The psychiatric-mental health nurse holds at least a master’s degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing and can assess and diagnose disorders. Advanced psychiatric nurses work as clinical nurses in hospital settings, private clinics, and other treatment centers to offer psychotherapy, and prescribe medications in some states. They usually assist in clinical hospitals and the treatment of various mental health conditions. 

Even though you have the option of so many doctors, it is best to go to a psychiatrist or any other mental health professional. Even though a general practitioner can provide you with antidepressants they cannot professionally train for treating depression. The treatment of depression is a  mixture of art and science. It is not only about providing medications to improve your mood, but also to talk you out of certain habits and engage in behavioral modifications. 

Oftentimes, depression is the symptom of various mental health conditions, in such a case, it is important to treat the underlying problem and, not depression alone. A mental health professional is used to seeing a variety of mental health diagnoses and has more experience than a family doctor or general practitioner. 

Some people wonder ”Can neurologists treat depression?

What to expect when you see a doctor? 

When you visit a mental health professional for your treatment of depression, you need to be aware there will be a flood of questions asked to you to understand your situation precisely. This is not to intimidate you, but to prepare you for what is coming. 

Here are a few questions that a therapist or a psychiatrist may ask you: 

  • When did you or your loved ones first notice your symptoms of depression?
  • How long have you felt depressed? Do you generally always feel down, or does your mood fluctuate?
  • Does your mood ever swing from feeling down to feeling intensely happy (euphoric) and full of energy?
  • Do you ever have suicidal thoughts when you’re feeling down?
  • Do your symptoms interfere with your daily life or relationships?
  • Do you have any blood relatives with depression or another mood disorder?
  • What other mental or physical health conditions do you have?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?
  • How much do you sleep at night? Does it change over time?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

Once your doctor makes a diagnosis, they may start with the treatment. 

The most important treatment of depression is the combination of medication and psychotherapy

Medication like Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Atypical antidepressants, Tricyclic antidepressants, and Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are used for the treatment of depression. 

Therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) are used for the treatment of depression. 

Is one doctor enough? 

If you directly visit a psychiatrist, then yes one doctor is enough. However, if you decide to go to a general physician, they may provide you with antidepressants and the contact of a mental health professional. 

If you visit a hospital, there are chances that you may have to see both psychologists and a psychiatrist. The psychologist might provide you with psychotherapy, however, the psychiatrist will provide a prescription for antidepressants. 

In any case, you happen to visit a psychiatrist or any other mental health professional and are unhappy with the course of the treatment, then you should visit another doctor. 

Signs of a good doctor. 

Find a doctor that meets your needs 

Different doctors provide different treatments.

Some psychiatrists only prescribe medication and do not take appointments for weekly psychotherapies or talk therapies. Therefore, if you have decided that only medications are not what you want, look for a mental health professional who does both. By doing this, you as the client will get what you want and will not be disappointed by the course of the treatment. 

You should build a strong rapport

A mental health professional is usually the person you share all your life problems with. In order for you to do that without any difficulties, it is essential that you are comfortable with them. Having a strong relationship based on trust is an indication of a strong prognosis. If you do not trust your therapist or are uncomfortable around them, you know that this, not the right doctor for you. The bind you share with your doctor is essentially significant for the treatment and psychotherapy to work. 

Know about your doctor’s education and approach 

Most of the states require, therapists to have a license from the certified board. In addition, they should also have minimum years of education and internship or residency practice. Therefore, before you go to the therapist, it is important that you do a background check on them. Know if they have a license with the required amount of education. While doing so also learn about their way of approach. If you feel comfortable with their use of therapy, then you should go ahead. However, if you the slightest doubt, you should probably look for more options. This way, you may find a therapist, who’s approach suits you. 

A good therapist always gives homework.

Remember when you go to therapy, things do not end in that one 45 minutes session. With every session, your therapist expects you to make certain progress, be it a small or big achievement. However, this is not possible only by talking in your therapist’s office. A secession is usually followed by homework. This homework helps you apply what you have learned today in the session in your daily life. In case you are having problems with your parents, the therapist will give you homework, where you might have to spend some time with your parents. Homework is very important for the prognosis of the problem. Hence, expect a lot of homework. however, if you do not get any, ask your therapist why, or change them. 

They must challenge you 

You will not turn out to be okay out of miracle if your therapist keeps telling you it is okay to feel this way, it is okay to have done this or that. This will only make you feel weaker. However, it is okay to feel sad, but your therapist needs to challenge you to get out of the mental state. They need to provide you with evidence that proves to you that what you are feeling is not necessarily right. It is said that too much comfort will not help you with your treatment. Therefore, it is necessary that your therapist makes you uncomfortable, so that you rethink and challenge yourself to do otherwise. 

How does a doctor diagnose depression? 

There are four important ways that your doctor can use to diagnose depression.  They are: 

Physical exam: Your doctor will call you to their clinic, and take a complete exam about your physical self and health. They will look at your body language, the way you talk, the words you use, etc. They will also ask you about your various health conditions. 

Lab tests: Your doctor may ask you to provide with a  blood sample, for a complete blood count test or a thyroid test, or any other hormonal test, to make sure you are functioning properly 

Psychiatric evaluation: In order for your doctor to come to a diagnosis, there are various psychiatric tests. For example, Beck’s Depression Inventory is used for the diagnosis of depression. 

DSM-5: Finally, with the help of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health, which is typically the bible for psychology, your doctor will use the criteria listed in it, to make your diagnosis. 

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this article, we gave you a list of doctors to see for depression. Furthermore, we have seen what to expect from a doctor, is one doctor enough, signs of a good doctor, and how a doctor diagnoses depression. 

FAQs: What kind of doctor to see for depression? 

What kind of doctor prescribes antidepressants?

Primary care physicians can provide with antidepressants. However, if you do not respond to them, you are then asked to go to a psychiatrist for psychologists for better treatment

Should I see a psychiatrist or therapist?

The basic difference between the two is the medication. Psychiatrists who study in medical schools can prescribe medication. However, psychologists, who usually have a bachelor’s or master’s degree cannot prescribe medication.  

Can therapists diagnose?

A psychologist will diagnose a mental disorder or problem and determine what’s best for the patient’s care. A psychologist often works in tandem with a psychiatrist, who is also a medical doctor and can prescribe medication if it is determined that medication is necessary for a patient’s treatment.