When it comes to seeking mental health treatment, understanding the different types of mental health professionals can feel confusing. Who is the best person to see if you are struggling with your mental health? Who should you talk to if you have questions about depression? And who can prescribe antidepressants or other mental health medications when you need them? Is it a doctor, a therapist, a psychiatrist? Choosing the best mental health service or level of care for you or a loved one isn’t always easy.
In this article, we’ll look at who can prescribe medications like antidepressants, the differences between primary and mental health care physicians, and the benefits of combining therapy and medications. Finally, we’ll explore options for accessing mental health treatment.
Who Do I Talk To If I Need Antidepressants?
Depression is a common mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. Although it’s highly treatable, depression can feel like a challenging condition to talk about. Prescription medications can be life-changing, but they’re not right for everyone. There are many different types of antidepressants available, and each one has different indications.
Primary Care Physicians
Primary Care Doctors are the first line of defense when it comes to diagnosing and treating depression. They are familiar with the symptoms of depression and have the training to prescribe antidepressants safely and effectively.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors that are experts in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses such as depression. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and they specialize in psychiatric medication as well as therapy and other mental health treatments like transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), Spravato nasal esketamine, and more. They will typically assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis based on your unique symptoms and concerns. After making a diagnosis, psychiatrists may prescribe antidepressants if you decide together that medication should be a component of your treatment plan.
Psychologists are trained to assess and treat emotional issues such as depression. They work with patients one-on-one to help them understand their feelings and develop strategies to process and cope. Psychologists are not medical doctors and so are not qualified to prescribe medications like antidepressants but are qualified to diagnose a mental illness or a mental health condition.
Nurse Practitioners, particularly Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) are an essential part of many mental health treatment teams. PMHNPs are advanced practice registered nurses who are trained to assist the mental health needs of individuals, families, groups, and communities. PMHNPs can prescribe antidepressants and develop comprehensive treatment plans which may include other holistic interventions for mental health.
Physicians Assistants (PAs) are licensed professionals who work under the supervision of a physician. PAs have completed four years of college study in medical assisting coupled with two years of supervised experience working in a medical setting. PAs can administer medications by themselves or alongside other healthcare providers. As an added benefit, PAs may also be able to write prescriptions for certain drugs. In some states, pharmacists may also be able to write prescriptions for antidepressant medications.
How Do You Get Prescribed Antidepressants?
Getting a prescription for antidepressants usually involves going through an evaluation with your doctor or a mental health professional. Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and medical history to make sure that antidepressant medications are the best treatment option for you. They may also discuss other treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or lifestyle modifications, that could help reduce your symptoms. It’s essential to be honest and open with both your psychiatrist and your other mental health professionals about your symptoms and any concerns you have about taking medication.
Mental health professionals may also use some tests, such as a depression screening or genetic test, to guide which medication they recommend. Depending on the type of antidepressant prescribed, they may start you on a lower dose and gradually increase it over time.
It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice when taking antidepressants, as they can have side effects and interactions with other medications. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have about the antidepressant before starting it, including what symptoms to look out for and how to manage any side effects. Additionally, keep in touch with your doctor throughout the course of your treatment to discuss how the medication is working for you.
Lastly, do not stop taking an antidepressant medication without consulting with your doctor. Tapering off the medication over several weeks or months is generally recommended. Your doctor can help you decide the best way to do this.
All in all, a psychiatrist is best suited to prescribe antidepressants. By working with your doctor, it’s possible to find an effective antidepressant medication that can help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
At Neuro Wellness Spa, we offer a variety of alternative therapies for treatment-resistant depression. Our team of psychiatrists and mental health experts can help you decide which treatment may be best for your needs and provide support every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you start feeling like yourself again.