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Independent expert answers
on psychiatry and psychology

When to Ask for Professional Help

Abstract: If someone is feeling depressed should they refer to professionals? I am feeling down must I see a doctor?

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When to Ask for Professional Help

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Question(s): 
Written by: Petros Skapinakis, MD, MPH, PhD, lecturer of Psychiatry in the University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece. Eva Gerasi, postgraduate student in the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 30 Jul 2008.

If someone is feeling depressed should they refer to professionals? I am feeling down must I see a doctor?

Answer:

Usually it is necessary to ask for professional help when depression and other symptoms have continued for a time beyond which "normal" depression has previously lasted and has been accompanied by the inability of the patient to function in all the usual and necessary roles- for example, as an employee, parent, spouse or friend. The purpose of help is to find out whether treatment would be expected to shorten the length of the illness and if so which of the range of specific treatments would be most suitable and likely to be most effective.

Reasons to refer a patient to a mental health team is when someone is in a severe condition, failing to respond to common treatment, complicated by other factors such as personality disorders, or presents particular risks.

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