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Help for Mood Disorders

By Jennifer Ashton, M.D., Ob-Gyn with Christine Larson
WebMD Feature by “The Body Scoop for Girls”

If you think you or a friend or family member might have depression or another mood disorder, tell someone—a parent, an adult friend, a teacher, or a doctor. If you don’t tell someone, things probably will get worse, not better.

To diagnose a mood disorder, a doctor talks to you about your feelings and symptoms and does a physical exam to make sure it’s not some other illness that’s causing the problem. If your doctor thinks you’re depressed or have another mood disorder, she or he may refer you for treatment to a counselor. Three kinds of professionals often work together to treat mental disorders:

Psychiatrists: Medical doctors (M.D.s) trained in psychiatric diseases who can prescribe medications and talk with their patients to explore their deep mental issues.

Psychologists: Ph.D.s (not medical doctors) who provide long-term “talk therapy,” helping you explore your feelings and emotions. Psychologists can help you make a plan to change your behavior and reactions. Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together to provide long-term treatment for conditions like depression and bipolar disorder.

Social workers: These professionals usually have a master’s degree and can help you deal with a wide variety of problems. A social worker can’t prescribe medication or admit you to a hospital but can provide helpful advice and counseling for ongoing problems. Often social workers are good at hooking you up with helpful resources like support groups or programs dealing with specific issues (like dealing with divorce, coping with the death of a loved one, or other stressful events).

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