There are five types of doctors that can formally diagnose major depression. Below is a comprehensive list with descriptions.
Here is a list of the only doctors that can formally diagnose depression:
- General Practitioner (GP) – commonly referred to as an MD, medical doctor, or “family doctor”. A physician trained in all illnesses and injuries that can affect human biology. They treat both acute and chronic illnesses. They can prescribe medications.
- Psychiatrist: A doctor who has chosen to specialize in mental health (illness that affects human biology). They are trained in general medicine first, then specialize. So, understand all medical issues, though they have a deeper understanding than a doctor would of mental health issues.
- Psychologist: A Ph.D specialist trained in mental health. They can diagnose you but they are not true M.D.’s. That means, they can only provide you with therapeutic solutions, but cannot prescribe medications.
- Nurse Practitioner (NP): A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with advanced understanding in medical science and clinical application. They often take a more holistic approach to treatment that involves assessing patients by considering total wellness.
- Naturopathic doctor (ND): Physicians trained in natural treatment methods. An ND’s approach involves a combination of traditional medicine and natural healing methods such as using herbal supplements holistic or learning prevention tactics. Most ND’s work in private practices, hospitals, and clinics across North America.
Health professionals that cannot formally diagnose depression -, but can help you understand if you might be depressed – are: Crisis workers, Therapists (with a Masters degree), Social Workers, Mediators, Dietitians, Nutritionists, Suicide Preventionist Experts, Life Coaches, Nurses, Pastoral Therapists, Addictions Counsellors
Who should you see first?:
If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, they have lasted at least two weeks, and they are affecting your ability to function, your first step is to go see a medical doctor. That is, you need to go see a general practitioner – your family doctor or a doctor at a local clinic . They are trained in all disorders of the body, and this includes the brain. They are easier, and in most cases, less expensive than a psychiatrist, and they will be able to refer you to one if you need to see one.
Depression is a symptom that appears with many other illnesses. Sometimes it takes a deep investigation that involves other physical tests (like blood tests) to rule out all other conditions.
When your GP thinks you might have a mental illness he will refer you to a psychiatrist so, save yourself the hassle of sourcing one yourself. And if he diagnoses you with a mental health issue without having you see a psychiatrist, ask for a referral.
You should always get a second opinion, and it is best to get it from a physician that is trained in the type of illness its been suspect you’re dealing with. A psychiatrist will also consider counseling-type therapies. These are as important (if not more) than simply taking a prescribed mediation.
Remember: Your body is your foundation:
Depression is complicated. Some people get better without medications. Some people need medication to live and feel happy. Some people will feel better when they make major life changes. Some people need to do all of the above.
What’s important to understand is that while assessing lifestyle choices is often a crucial part of feeling better, ensuring your body is functioning properly is as important. If you have a hormonal imbalance or brain chemical issue, you can take all the actions in the world and it won’t help lift your mood.