Everyone goes through periods of anxiety and sadness or “ups and downs” when facing one of life’s many disappointing or difficult moments, however, when depression becomes more than the normal anxiety and sadness sometimes experienced for a short time and the feelings of sadness become overwhelming and last for extended periods of time, this may be a symptom of clinical or major depressive disorder.
Major depression typically will not disappear on its own and requires the assistance of medical professionals in order to overcome the symptoms. If you or a loved has decided to seek help for the symptoms of depression, this medical guide on depression will inform you on what steps you should take and the differences among the mental health professionals that specialize in these disorders.
The First Step in Finding Help for Depression
The first step that should be taken when seeking help for depression is making an appointment with your primary care physician. In many cases, a physician is able to make an accurate diagnosis of depression and begin treatment as well as refer you to a mental health professional for therapy or counseling.
If you do not have a primary care physician the best course of action to take is calling your local clinic or hospital and they will refer you to a medical doctor or mental health specialist in your local area. In the majority of cases when treating depression, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is recommended.
Choosing a Therapist
Depending on the cause of your depression or what type of depression you have will determine what type of medications or therapy is needed. In cases when the depression is mild and may or may not require medication, the type of therapy that is done by a psychologist or counselor can be effective in relieving or overcoming the symptoms of depression.
A psychologist is trained in psychotherapy and will typically use a form of therapy called “CBT” or “cognitive behavioral therapy” when treating depression. While there are some counselors, psychotherapists, and social workers who are trained in psychotherapy, others are not and can only provide counseling that is typically a brief form of treatment where as psychotherapy is a more involved and longer treatment process.
While psychologists are licensed to practice psychotherapy they are not licensed to prescribe medications, therefore, in treating severe cases of depression or when a chemical imbalance is the suspected cause of depression, a psychiatrist is recommended as they are a medical doctor and qualified in psychotherapy as well as licensed to prescribe medications.
When choosing a therapist it is important to find one that you are comfortable with as therapists differ in the ways that they approach treatment. It is important to find the one that is the right “fit” for you or one that you can “click” with. In order to find the one that is right for you, you may have to try a couple of sessions with different therapists; however, this will be beneficial to you in the long run in ensuring successful treatment.