When you’re depressed, finding a mental health professional can seem like a daunting task. Whether you need a therapist, someone to prescribe medication, or both, here are some simple steps to consider.
Step 1: See your physician for a physical exam. Sometimes illnesses can manifest themselves as depression. Even if you are 100% sure that you suffer from depression, tell the doctor about your symptoms and get a diagnosis. Seeing a doctor might be mandatory — especially if you have health insurance that requires it before you see a psychiatrist.
Step 2: After conferring with your doctor, seek out referrals. If you have health insurance, contact them to see if mental health is covered in your plan. If so, ask for the professionals who are under your insurance plan and get their contact info. If you don’t have health insurance, then reach out to your community mental health center, which can be found through a simple Google search.
Step 3: Book the appointment with your first referral, even if you have to wait several weeks. Then reach out to your other referrals and find out if they can help you sooner. If you can’t wait for help, then seek the help of your physician to give you the appropriate treatment(s) to tide you over. Go to a hospital emergency room, if you’re in a dire situation.
Step 4: Ask questions. Here are some, which you might want to think about or ask in your first visit with a psychiatrist or therapist: Do you feel comfortable with this person? What is their background? What can you expect if you work together? How will they evaluate your progress? How available are they in between appointments? What is their payment structure?
Step 5: Build a relationship. Your first referral may not feel right to you. Keep looking. You’re in this for the long-term and you want to make sure you’ve got the right fit for your needs.