“You can go out there and conquer the world, but then there’s that voice say “who are you? You know you can’t do that. That cancerous attitude, that self-defeatist attitude and it’s always there.”
Iraq War Vet
The information presented in this site is not intended as and should not be considered medical advice. Please consult your health care professional for an opinion regarding a specific medical condition.
Talking to a Professional
Even though many people don’t think of depression as being shameful like they used to, talking about it still has some risks. However, most of the time the benefits of talking about it outweigh the risks. If your depression affects how well you are able to work, consider talking about it with your boss or someone in human resources. If your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), they may be able to help, too. If depression affects your schoolwork, think about talking to your advisor or a professor that you trust. Many schools offer counseling services to their students.
Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to talk about it with the people you trust. Depression is just like other health problems, and talking about it is a major part of dealing with it.
Talking to a professional
There are different types of mental health professionals that you can talk to.
- Family doctors or primary care physicians are the doctors you normally see for other health problems. These doctors can help figure out if you are depressed or not and can prescribe medications if you are. But, they are not trained in counseling or talk therapy. While some people feel better just by taking medications, some people prefer counseling or both.
- Psychiatrists, like your regular doctor, can prescribe medications. Many also have training in counseling or “talk therapy.” If they prescribe medications for you, they should be checking to make sure that they are working for you.
- Psychologists are therapists who are trained in psychotherapeutic counseling. They are not medical doctors, but most psychologists who see patients have a doctorate degree like a PhD or PsyD. In general, they can’t prescribe medications (each state is different), but may work with a psychiatrist who can, and should be checking to make sure they are working for you. Psychotherapists or counselors are trained mental health professionals. These terms are often used loosely, and may refer to a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or other type of counselor who uses psychotherapy (also referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling) with patients. Some have a master’s degree in social work and are called licensed clinician social workers (LCSW).
- Pastoral Counselors are certified and/or licensed as therapists. These professionals are dually degreed (masters or doctoral) in the behavioral health sciences and in theology or religious studies. Many are ordained clergy. They address an array of mental health concerns and are sensitive to issues of religion or spirituality. They often work in concert with consulting psychiatrists.
No matter which professional you see, he or she should know a lot about depression, not judge what you say, and keep what you say private. Even though they all have the skills to help you with your depression, the most important thing is that you are comfortable with them and can trust them with what you have to say.
You may feel that you can’t afford to see a mental health professional, especially if you don’t have health insurance. Your community may have mental health counseling services at reduced cost. See the resources section of this booklet for help finding such services.
Other resources you may want to look into include:
- Your health plan or employee assistance program (EAP)
- Community mental health centers
- Health clinics at a state or local hospital
- Social service agencies
- Private clinics
- Local medical and/or psychiatric groups
- Campus health centers
- Pastoral Counseling Centers
FINDING HELP IN A RELIGIOUS SETTING
Some men and their families find it helpful to seek counseling in a religious or spiritual setting by talking with one's faith leader or a trained and certified pastoral counselor. Just remember that depression is a serious illness that requires the help of trained behavioral healthcare providers.