What Kind of Help Do I Need?
For those battling depression, the choice of practitioners can be daunting
Depression is real. It is estimated that over 40 million Americans suffer from some form of a depressive disorder. That’s over 18% of the population (source). These people are in need of help. Some will seek assistance, but what kind of help to look for can be confusing. A simple Google search turns up doctors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, therapists, counselors and numerous self-help programs all claiming to help treat depression.
What makes it more confusing is that many different approaches to treating depression can be effective. Research shows that medication-based therapy, cognitive and behavioral therapy, or a combination of the above have all had success helping those with a depressive disorder.
So, what’s right for you? You need to consider approach and cost. When it comes to approach there is no right answer. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Some people just want to take medication and hope that alone alleviates their symptoms. Your personal physician may prescribe an anti-depressant, but could also opt to refer you to a psychiatrist who is more knowledgeable about the latest and best pharmaceutical approaches to treating depression.
There are also many people who would prefer avoiding medication if possible. For them, regular sessions with a psychologist, therapist or counselor may help them overcome their symptoms using a variety of techniques. This is a longer and more gradual process than the medical approach, but can offer a longer lasting result.
Others want a combination of a medical and psychotherapeutic approach. In this model, you would see a doctor or psychiatrist for medication to ease symptoms while also working with a psychologist or therapist to work on behavior modification.
There are pros and cons for each of the methods listed above. The reality for many will be finding the treatment they can best afford. For those who have health insurance, that will start with seeing what your plan offers.
Mental health benefits are often a separate component of your insurance plan. You must carefully review your mental health benefits to see what is covered. What is offered by your insurer may dictate what kind of coverage you seek.
A number of psychiatrists choose not to participate as in-network providers with insurance companies. You may have to search extensively to find an in-network provider that you are comfortable. Your plan might allow you the option of seeing an out of network provider. Several psychiatrists work this way. It will cost more than your usual co-pay, but may be more affordable than a strict cash-for-services arrangement. You must carefully study your deductibles and out of pocket maximum expenditures when looking at out of network providers. If you can’t find a suitable in-network provider and do not have an out-of-network option then you might have to consider paying cash which can be costly.
There is a wide range of medications and drug classes that can be prescribed to help with depression. It will be important to know what your prescription plan covers and whether it is a name brand or generic. Finding the right medication to best alleviate the symptoms is hard enough, but getting it covered at the lowest cost can also be challenging. If you are paying cash for your meds, it is critical to know the widest variety of options available.
If you choose to work regularly with a psychologist or therapist, your insurance likely will allow for a maximum number of visits per year. So, if you wish to see a therapist weekly and your plan limits you to 15 visits a year, the remaining visits would come out-of-pocket. The good news is that therapists, psychologists and even psychiatrists are aware of these limits and many are good at working with their patients to keep the sessions affordable after limits have been reached.
It seems like a lot. For someone in need of help, just thinking about all of this might make it seem like it is too hard to get started. Depression can lead to lethargy, which makes doing the work of finding help seem almost impossible.
It’s not. There is plenty of help out there. It rarely takes more than a phone call to get started. If you need help for depression or some other mental health challenge and are not sure about what kind of help you need, you can call us at the WAVE International at (727) 437-7789.
Rob Weingarten is the Vice President of Communications for the WAVE International