Question: When is it best to send people to psychiatric/mental health specialists to diagnose depression?
Answer: Nowadays, many non-mental health specialists do diagnose and manage depression. And in many cases that may be appropriate when the patient's depression is relatively mild. There are certain situations when it is best for the patient to see a psychiatrist or another mental health specialist.
Some scenarios when this might be necessary would be for instance if the patient is having thoughts about suicide. Or if the patient's symptoms are so severe that they're having significant problems with their daily functioning, so for instance they're not eating, they're not going to work, they're not getting out of the house. If there's significant substance abuse that is going along with the depression, that would be another reason to have the patient see a mental health specialist.
Also, if there's the presence of any other psychiatric disorder that's complex. So, for instance if the patient had both depression and an eating disorder or an obsessive compulsive disorder, a post-traumatic stress disorder. Those are more complex diseases that are best managed by a psychiatrist.
And finally, if the patient does have not just regular depression, but has bipolar disorder, or if there's a question of whether the person might have bipolar disorder, it's probably best to have that patient see a psychiatrist because bipolar disorder can be a very challenging disease to manage and it's probably best for a psychiatrist to treat that.