Psychological Evaluation

Nurses General Nursing


I have never seen a mental health provider before. I am looking to see one now for issues with depression. I am not anti-meds, and would take them if I thought it would make a big difference, but I would like the focus to be on behavioral modification/cognitive therapy.

Should I see a psychiatrist or a psychologist? Initially I thought of seeing a psychiatrist for an opinion on whether there was a need for meds and then see a psychologist after that.

I just don't want to be doped up with no help with my behavior and thought patters but also vice versa if I do have the need for meds.

For those of you with experience in this area, what is your opinion? How should I proceed? Thanks!

lsyorke, RN

710 Posts

Specializes in Med-Surg, Wound Care.

Psychologist don't prescribe meds. Psychiatrist for the most part only prescribe meds. I would absolutely go Psychology.


1,842 Posts

could you meet with several of them, in order to determine who would be a good fit for you.


1,062 Posts

Specializes in ICU, psych, corrections.

From what you stated, you would probably prefer a psychologist. I've been to both and the psychologist helped me FAR more than the psychologist did. She worked on my behavior and thought process so I didn't need any medications. That being said, if it's an actual physiological problem you have (i.e. chemical imbalance), then you would probably benefit from meds. Good luck!!!

Melanie :p


131 Posts

Specializes in OR, Hospice.

I initially saw a psychiatrist for an evaluation. He said that, given my family history of depression and bipolar disorder I could probably benefit from meds but it was my decision....I turned down them down. He then referred me to a therapist. After several months of therapy (helpful) I realized that I really did need the meds and went back to the psychiatrist. I continued with the therapy, which helped a lot for the "life issues" that I was dealing with at the time. But I also realized that I needed meds to really function properly.

Even if you don't want medication it doesn't hurt to get evaluated by a psychiatrist. In the event you do decide you want to try something, you've already established a relationship with him/her. At the very least you can find out what your options are and get referrals for therapists.

Good luck!


475 Posts

I think both could help you. The psychologist could help you through your problems and with overcoming dysfunctional thinking, and the psychiatrist can help balance the chemicals in your brain with meds. Meds are miracle-workers, believe me.

grimmy, RN

349 Posts

social workers, preferably msw, are also good resources for psychotherapy. they are often more affordable, too. depending on what state you live in, the psychologist you see may not be trained in clinical psychology, so ask about their training.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis.

talk to people you know and trust who have seen psychotherapists

I have a wonderful socialworker/therapist who is amazing and has helped me so much.

I am not on meds at all right now. just going for therapy. its' so important to treat the issues beyond chemistry to fully get a grip on depression. word of mouth is great to find the "right" one for you.

Good luck. I do wish you the best....and I feel for you.


1,277 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/ICU.

Start with a psychologist. A good one will be able to tell, over time, if you need the help of a psychiatrist.

I have quite a bit of personal experience with psychotherapists. It's VERY important to find a good fit. You should interview a few before committing anything to get a feel for their views on medications. Therapists cannot technically diagnose medical conditions such as clinical depression/bi-polar/etc, only an MD (psychiatrist) can do that, but psychotherapists can recognize the tell-tale signs and recommend you seeing an MD to get chemical treatment. Thing is, some therapists don't necessarily think that meds are the way to go and won't recommmend you try meds. There's almost like a love/hate relationship between some doctors and therapists.

This has been my experience.

If you DO end up diagnosed with a medical condition and you are placed on meds, I firmly believe that the meds are just part of the treament. I think that one should also seek psychotherapy while taking the med. Most psychotherapists will agree, but not all psychaitrists agree.

This is why I sometimes feels so utterly confused when a pcp will perscribe antidepressants and send their patient out the door with either just a suggestion of chatting with someone about their problems or finding a support group, or sending them along without any suggestion of the sort at all.

Anyway, good luck to you. Looking into either when you feel that you might need to is taking good care of yourself and let me just say that psychotherapy is one of the most satisfying things I have ever done for myself in my entire life!

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

I would go with the psychologist or clinical social worker who specializes in counseling.

First, get a physical from your MD, then have him/her give you a referral to a psychologist or clinical social worker that your health insurance will cover. Your own doctor can prescribe the antidepressant medication for you while you are going through therapy with a therapist or psychologist. You do NOT need to see a psychiatrist for these meds. I don't. I see my own doctor, and the psychologist or therapist I may see works with my doctor if I need increased meds, etc.

That's the best way to go. Start with your own MD first, and go from there.:)


230 Posts

some psychiatrists do both therapy and med evaluations.... Good Luck

leslie :-D

11,191 Posts

it depends if your depression is r/t exogenous factors or endogenous. if they're endogenous, then you definitely need antidepressents; if exogenous, then a therapist should suffice. combination? both.

there can be a million causes of depression, i.e., bad childhood, low self esteem, financial pressures, divorce....whatever the cause, if your biochemistry is out of whack, then all the therapy in the world won't help until you get on an appropriate antidepressant that will balance out your neurotransmitters.

best of luck to you.


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