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Who can help with depression?

The people who can treat you for depression include GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists.

Normally your GP will do medical checks and make a diagnosis.

If your depression is mild, your GP might be the only health professional you need.

If you need more treatment, your GP might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Your GP may recommend that you see a psychiatrist if:

  • you have severe depression
  • they have questions about your diagnosis
  • you're not getting better after treatment
  • you're at risk of harming yourself.

If more than one health professional is treating your depression, they should keep each other up to date about the diagnosis and treatment.

If you are Māori, Aboriginal or a Torres Strait Islander you may want to ask your health-care team to work with a cultural advisor or Indigenous health worker (e.g. Māori health worker or Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health worker).

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, an experienced mental health Auslan/NZSL interpreter can be provided.

More about mental health professionals

Psychiatrists: their role in treating depression

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They are specialists in diagnosing and treating people with all types of mental illness.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree plus extra mental health training. They have done at least 11 years of university study and medical training.

A psychiatrist can help with:

  • making the right diagnosis (important for getting the right treatment)
  • working out which type of psychological treatment is best for you
  • fine-tuning your medication
  • treating problems with alcohol and other drugs
  • treating other problems (e.g. anxiety).

A psychiatrist can provide you with ongoing care and treatment, or can see you once or a few times, then provide advice to a GP, who will be your primary health-care provider.

More about psychiatrists

Questions to ask about your health-care team and your treatment

  • Who is the main doctor who will manage my depression?
  • Who else is involved and what are their roles?
  • How will my GP be involved?
  • Who will prescribe medication and check it is working?
  • What is our plan for what to do if my symptoms come back or get worse? (Sometimes called a relapse recovery plan.)
  • Do all my doctors or therapists have a copy of my relapse prevention plan?
  • Will my information be kept confidential from other people? Can I choose who my information can be shared with (e.g. a trusted family member)?
Page last reviewed Apr 2017 | C1035V1

This is a general guide only, and does not replace individual medical advice. Please speak to your doctor for advice about your situation. The RANZCP is not liable for any consequences arising from relying on this information. Subject matter experts, people with lived experience of mental illness and carers all contributed to this fact sheet.