Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Depression: When to Call Your Health Care Provider 

If you have been diagnosed with depression, call your health care provider if:

  • You find it hard or it's getting harder to deal with your job, family, and friends.

  • You think your treatment is not helping or you are not getting better.Your symptoms get worse or you get new symptoms.

  • You have any problems with your antidepressant medicines, such as side effects, or you are thinking about stopping your medicine.

  • You are having manic behavior, such as having very high energy, needing less sleep than normal, or showing risky behavior such as spending money you don't have or abusing others verbally or physically.

  • You have thoughts about hurting yourself.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you get better on your own, you may not need treatment. If you get worse, you and your health care provider will decide what to do next. Watchful waiting may be right for you if you have feelings of grief or sadness because you have lost a loved one or have had a stressful life event.

If symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks, or if you think about suicide, talk with your health care provider as soon as you can.

It also may help to discuss your symptoms with a close and trusted friend or family member. Sometimes another person can see changes in your mood or behavior sooner than you can.

Who to see

There any many types of providers who treat depression and many types of treatments. A good place to start is with your family health care provider. If treatment by your health care provider does not help you, the next step is to see a mental health provider. It is important that the person you see has experience treating people with depression and is trained in proven therapies. It is also important that you establish a good long-term relationship. If you don't feel comfortable with one health care provider or therapist, try another one.

Health care providers who can diagnose depression and prescribe medicine include:

  • Family medicine doctors

  • Internists

  • Psychiatrists

  • Physician assistants

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Obstetricians or gynecologists

Treatment such as professional counseling or therapy can be provided by:

  • Psychiatrists (who can also diagnose and prescribe medicines)

  • Psychologists

  • Social workers

  • Licensed professional counselors

  • Psychiatric nurses

  • Nurse practitioners  

Do you have thoughts about suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 7/1/2018
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library