Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can a general practitioner diagnose the symptoms of depression?"
I think that I might be depressed, but I don't have a psychologist. Would my general practitioner be able to diagnose my depression symptoms and help me with treatment?
Yes, a general practitioner, or a family medical physician can diagnose you with depression and be able to provide you with appropriate treatment. Depression is a serious medical condition that can have significant effects on an individual's daily functioning status. It is most commonly seen in young patients between 20-40 years of age. The diagnosis of depression is generally made based on symptoms that the patient's present with and their experiences. This diagnosis does not require any specific testing or labwork, however, labwork maybe ordered in order to rule out medical causes for your depression. Your doctor may even give you a checklist type test to make a diagnosis of depression. Most commonly reported symptoms include hopelessness, poor mood, change in appetite, decreased concentration, symptoms of guilt, decreased interest in activities that were previously enjoyed, changes in sleeping habits, tiredness and thoughts of death. Once the diagnosis of depression is made, treatment is generally initiated with antidepressants, and with counseling sessions to discuss your progress. You should definitely make an appointment with your primary physician as soon as possible to discuss your concerns. Your doctor will be able to ask questions about your symptoms, and based on the above, and a physical examination, be able to treat you appropriately.
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