Medical Q&As

Depressed - who should I go to?

Over the past couple of months I have been feeling very down in the dumps, almost on a daily basis. This is mainly due to emotional difficulties with relationships and I am also deeply unhappy at work with no motivation. I frequently feel very irritable and my energy levels fluctuate a lot. I don't at all feel suicidal, just very unhappy, and stuck in a rut. I don't think I need medication for depression but would like to speak to someone about my problems. Is it best to go to a GP first or directly to a counsellor, psychologist or a psychotherapist?

I agree that it would be wise for you to speak to a therapist about your situation. You are describing persistent feelings of depressed mood that have been present for several months and you may well be suffering from depression even though you say that you lack any suicidal thoughts. Your feelings could well be due to the relationship difficulties you allude to or alternatively could be due to your unhappiness in your work. You may even be feeling that you have drifted into a cul de sac in your life and wish to make changes. You ask which type of professional you should contact to discuss matters further to which I would reply that it doesn’t really matter so long as the person you visit is suitably experienced and competent in their field. Experienced professional therapists will usually recognise if a person attending them should more appropriately be attending another type of professional. For example if you chose to visit your GP and your doctor felt you would benefit more from seeing a counsellor he or she would refer you on. Equally if a counsellor felt that your situation required medical treatment he or she would refer you on to a GP. Many of us in general practice have a network of contacts within the fields of counselling and psychology and there is a degree of inter-referral going on between GPs and various types of professional, including referral to GPs from these allied professionals. Attending a GP or a counsellor would be an equally appropriate first step to take on your journey.