For depression treatment, how do psychologists and psychiatrists differ?

Dr. Marsha Lucas

Should you work with a psychiatrist or a psychologist to treat depression? Each approaches depression in a different way, says neuropsychologist Marsha Lucas, PhD, and many patients benefit for working with both.

Dr. Rossi Davis
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD, ODD) who manage psychiatric disorders through medication management. Some psychiatrists may also provide psychotherapy.  Psychologists are clinicians who in addition to providing therapy also may administer psychological tests. Psychologists have a doctorate such as PhD (doctorate of philosophy in psychology), PsyD (doctorate in psychology), EDD (doctorate in education) and are licensed in their state to practice as psychologists. They do not prescribe medication. Few psychologists who are trained and credentialed in pharmacology may prescribe medication in those states that grant prescriptive rights to psychologists.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Both psychologists and psychiatrists approach the treatment of depression with training in psychology -- the science of the mind and behavior. A psychologist usually works with people who have mental health issues by using psychotherapy ("talk therapy"). A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can practice psychotherapy, as well as diagnose and treat mental disorders. In most states, medications can be prescribed only by psychiatrists, not psychologists. However, in Louisiana and New Mexico, certain psychologists can prescribe medications.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.