Getting the Mental Health Help You Need and Can Afford


depression-doctor-therapist
Nurses, therapists, even your ob-gyn can now treat depression.
(SCOTT CAMAZINE/GETTY IMAGES)
Medical professionals who treat depression fall into two groups: Those who can prescribe antidepressant medications and those who can't.

Any medical professional with a medical degree can prescribe antidepressants. Family physicians, internists, and ob-gyns prescribe the majority of antidepressants but are usually not trained to provide psychotherapy or counseling.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in treating mental disorders. In addition to prescribing antidepressants, psychiatrists usually also offer talk therapy.

Professionals who do not prescribe medications and offer only talk therapy include psychologists, social workers, and licensed professional counselors.

The severity of your symptoms, your preferences, the presence of other illnesses or personality problems, and your medical history are just some of the factors that affect treatment choices.

Cost is also a factor in mental health care
Psychiatrists can charge hundreds of dollars per hour; psychologists and other mental health professionals generally charge less. Before starting therapy, be sure to agree on fees and check to see if your insurance plan covers mental health treatment.

Patients often see one specialist for talk therapy and a medical doctor or nurse for prescription medication.

If your symptoms are mild or moderate but you've been treated with only partial success in the past, your doctor may suggest medication with or without psychotherapy. Recent large studies of psychotherapy and medication suggest that a combination of treatments is more effective than either type of therapy alone.
Lead writer: Mary Pinkowish
Last Updated: April 25, 2008

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