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Who Can Prescribe Antidepressants?

Many people who face depression don’t know what they can do to address their depressive symptoms. In fact, some people don’t even know that treatments for their depressive feelings exist. When I experienced my first episode of deep depression, I was totally unaware of what could be done to help eliminate this unwelcome feeling. At the time, I was only 14 years old and had zero knowledge that antidepressants even existed.

The initial suggestion from my family was to go on a natural antidepressant called St. Johns Wort. Unfortunately we never even went to the store to buy the supplement. I had no idea that doctors prescribed pharmaceutical antidepressants to treat mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. My parents ended up doing some internet-research and dragged me to the doctor for an antidepressant prescription.

Who can prescribe antidepressants?

In most countries, antidepressant medications must be prescribed by a qualified medical professional. In other words, a licensed medical doctor will need to write up a prescription for antidepressant treatment. Although general practitioners are very knowledgeable when it comes to many diseases and health concerns, most would agree that they lack the specific knowledge and caution that’s required to prescribe antidepressants.

Many general practitioners are totally clueless when it comes to: antidepressant side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and medications that should be utilized for specific subtypes of depression. Additionally many of them are completely uninformed about various antidepressant augmentation strategies and lack the knowledge of various psychotropic drug interactions. If you ask a general practitioner about stopping your medication, they may tell you that you can quit cold turkey and should be feeling normal again within a few days.

Who should prescribe antidepressants?

Informed, ethical psychiatrists. Really the only people that have business prescribing psychotropic medications are highly-informed and ethical psychiatrists. If you have pursued various natural cures for depression and nothing seems to work, your next step should be booking an appointment with a psychiatrist. After a few appointments, you should get a good idea as to whether you like and/or trust your psychiatrist to work with you in treating your depression. (For more information read: What to look for in a good psychiatrist).

All psychiatrists should be informed and up-to-date with the latest psychiatric literature and studies. If your psychiatrist is using outdated methods, it’s probably best to find a new one. Ethical psychiatrists will always prescribe what they think will work best for the patient, not based on the amount of financial kickbacks they are getting from pharmaceutical companies for promoting certain drugs.

The ideal psychiatrist is someone who is ethical, genuinely cares about you, and who is prescribing treatments to best suit your needs. They should be taking into account feedback from you based on how you feel, how you’ve reacted to other medications, etc. Believe it or not, there are still plenty of psychiatrists who don’t care to hear patient feedback and who will just throw another drug at them and call it a day. There are plenty of highly paid, highly qualified “psychiatrists” who are very poor at their craft.

Psychiatrists should never be afraid to inform someone of various alternative treatments before pushing antidepressants. Although even relatively incompetent psychiatrists and/or unethical ones likely know more than a medical doctor, the goal should be to find a psychiatrist to work with that makes you feel comfortable. You should only go to a psychiatrist that you believe is genuinely trying to help you, not just throwing drugs at you with no explanation.

Feeling depressed and not knowing where to get a prescription for an antidepressant can be tough. You may have to cope with your depression for awhile until you get an appointment with a competent, ethical, experienced psychiatrist. Sure you can go to any medical doctor for an antidepressant prescription, but you may be starting out with the wrong medication at an improper dosage.  Additionally, your medical doctor may not know how to address withdrawal symptoms or properly transition to a different drug.

Not all general practitioners are inept when it comes to prescribing antidepressants, but most are significantly less qualified than a psychiatrist. Do your best to make an informed decision about who you trust caring for your mental health.

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  • A Parent June 11, 2016, 1:59 am

    My 7 year old son was diagnosed with autism by a psychologist. He is prescribed Prozac (low dose). Month after month, we go to the psych for a prescription. Every month that is a $300+ visit for a $4 prescription of 15 Prozac generic pills. I am feeling used. What are my options?

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