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What Kind of Doctors Can Prescribe Depression Medication?

By Lisa C. DeLuca ; Updated July 27, 2017

If you think you need antidepressant medication, there are several different types of practitioners and medical practices that can help you.

Who Can Prescribe Antidepressants?

Medical doctors (practitioners whose name is followed by MD or DO) have the ability to prescribe medications, including antidepressant drugs. Many people see their general physician, family physician or internist to discuss symptoms of depression and get a prescription for antidepressants. Physician's assistants (PA) may also prescribe these medications.

Psychiatrists

A psychiatrist is an MD who specializes in mental health problems like depression and the medications used to treat these problems. Psychiatrists sometimes do weekly psychotherapy in addition to prescribing medicine.

Nurse Practitioners

Some registered nurses (RN) have additional certification that gives them the ability to prescribe medicines, including antidepressant medications. These professionals are known as nurse practitioners (NP). Some nurse practitioners specialize in psychiatry.

Those Who Cannot Prescribe Antidepressant Medication

Psychotherapists and counselors who are doctors of psychology (PhD), social workers or counselors are not medical doctors and prescribing medication is not within their scope of practice.

What is Medication Management?

Most psychiatrists and some psychiatric nurse practitioners focus only on medication management (i.e. monitoring progress and side effects), and may meet with clients monthly to do this. Some do psychotherapy in addition to prescribing.

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