Who Can Best Help with Depression: A Therapist or a Psychologist?

By Jared Levenson - Reviewed on September 5, 2023
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Depression is a common yet serious mood disorder that can severely affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities. It’s more than just feeling “down” or “blue” for a few days – it’s a lingering sadness and loss of interest that lasts for weeks, months, or even longer.

Symptoms can range from persistent feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness to physical problems such as depressive symptoms such as sleep disturbances, appetite changes, and lack of energy.

When it comes to depression treatment, many mental health professionals are available to help.

  • But how do you know whether you should seek help from a therapist or a psychologist?
  • What’s the difference between the two mental health diagnoses?
  • Which one can best help you navigate your journey towards treating mental health conditions recovery?

In general, therapy will be acceptable for less severe forms of depression. A psychologist is ideal in cases of depression that are more severe and in which medication is advised.

The Online Mental Health Review Team is highly qualified to discuss the topic of therapist vs. psychologist for depression because they possess a diverse background in mental disorders and health-related fields.

Let’s learn more about therapists vs psychologists for depression and what that means.

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What do psychologists call depression?

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Navigating the mental health landscape can be daunting, but understanding how other mental health professionals, like psychologists, categorize depression can illuminate your path.

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): This is the most common form of depression, and it’s what most people typically refer to when discussing depression.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD): Also known as dysthymia, this is a chronic form of depression lasting at least two years.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Previously known as manic depression, this condition involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): This type of depression is related to seasonal changes, usually starting in late fall and early winter.
  • Postpartum Depression: Some new mothers experience severe, long-lasting depression after childbirth.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): This is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome that includes physical and behavioral symptoms, often with depression.

What are the similarities between a psychologist and a therapist?

Clarifying the Confusion: Therapist vs. Psychotherapist

In mental health support, psychologists and therapists share many similarities in their mission to have mental health counselors guide individuals toward emotional well-being.

  • Goal of Wellbeing: Psychologists and therapists aim to improve their clients’ mental health and emotional well-being.
  • Use of Psychotherapy: Both professions utilize various forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, or psychodynamic therapy.
  • Client-Centered Approach: Both psychologists and therapists work to create a safe, empathetic environment where clients feel heard and understood.
  • Confidentiality: Both are bound by professional ethics to maintain client confidentiality, ensuring a private space for healing.
  • Continuing Education: Both professions require ongoing learning and training to stay updated on the latest research and therapeutic techniques.

What is the difference between a therapist and a psychologist?

Therapist vs Psychologist

Therapists and psychologists play critical roles in mental health but differ in their educational backgrounds, training, and therapeutic approaches.

  1. A therapist, also known as a clinical psychologist, a counselor, or a psychotherapist, typically holds a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, social work, or a related field. They are trained to understand the human mind and behavior, provide emotional support, and utilize various therapeutic techniques to help clients cope with mental health parity issues.
  2. On the other hand, psychologists have a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology and specialize in the science of behavior and the mind. They conduct psychological testing and research and provide therapy for various mental health issues and medical conditions.
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Can a therapist or psychologist prescribe medication?

online mental health medication

Healthline does an excellent job outlining the parameters of mental health professionals’ roles, such as whether a therapist or psychologist can prescribe medications or medication:

  • Therapists: Therapists, including counselors and social workers, typically cannot prescribe medication as they focus on talk therapy.
  • Psychologists: In most states, psychologists are not authorized to prescribe medication; their primary role is providing psychotherapy.
  • Exceptions: Some states, like New Mexico and Louisiana, have laws allowing adequately trained psychologists to prescribe medication.
  • Working with Psychiatrists: If medication is needed, therapists and psychologists often collaborate with psychiatrists who can prescribe and manage medication.

Therapist vs. Psychologist or Depression Conclusion

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Whether you choose to see a therapist or a psychologist for depression, the most important thing is that you’re taking steps toward getting the help you need.

You may want to read more about psychology or therapy for anxiety and other differences. Both professionals bring valuable skills and expertise to the table – the key is finding the right fit for you. There are even outpatient and inpatient options.

Remember, you don’t have to face depression alone. There are resources available to help you navigate this challenging journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out – your mental health matters.

You may also suggest your favorite mental health software you think the Online Mental Health Reviews platform should review next. Our team would love to hear about your experience!

If your organization is considering a mental health tool, please email us to request a review. If appropriate, we will secret shop the service your organization wants to learn more about and leave a comprehensive review.

Best Value-Per-Dollar
BetterHelp | Online Therapy for Stressed Professionals
$60-$90 / Week

Overall, BetterHelp conveniently provides busy professionals with various live therapy options to make it the best online therapy in terms of value per dollar.

Try 10% Off Our Review

Additional Reading

For more distinctions between various mental health jobs/terms, please see our articles covering: counselor vs therapist and salary comparison, psychiatrist vs psychologist (depression), therapist vs psychologist, LPC vs PsyD, clinical psychologist, counseling versus coaching, mentors vs sponsors, psychotherapy vs CBT, therapy quiz, trauma coach vs therapist, therapist vs life coaches, hospital vs psych ward, and psychologist vs social worker.

If You Are In Crisis

Waiting for an online therapy session in a crisis might not be the safest option. If you’re in immediate danger or plan to harm yourself or others, please dial 911 immediately. If thoughts of self-harm overwhelm you, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988.

They are available around the clock to provide support. Another valuable resource is the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reachable at 800-662-HELP (4357).

This line offers free, confidential assistance 24/7, 365 days a year, guiding individuals with severe mental health conditions or substance abuse issues towards treatment options and providing essential information. You don’t have to face this alone; help is just a call away.

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