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Can Primary Care Physicians Prescribe Antidepressants?

November 18, 2020 Read Time - 6 minutes

About Author

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

Warning: The use of certain antidepressants to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) in adolescents may increase the risk of suicidal ideations and behaviors. While taking antidepressants mental health can change in unexpected ways. You should call a doctor right away if you experience any suicidal thoughts. Always talk to a doctor about the risks and benefits of taking antidepressant medication before beginning treatment.

Can Primary Care Physicians Prescribe Antidepressants?

Yes, primary care physicians can work with you to prescribe antidepressants, when necessary.

This is great news for anyone working closely with their primary care doctor to create a comprehensive healthcare plan. If you or your doctor feel that your mental health treatment plan may benefit from the addition of an antidepressant, your primary care doctor can prescribe one for you.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment PlushCare-App-Steps

When Are Antidepressants Prescribed?

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, among other conditions.

The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a very serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you think, act, as well as how you feel. When left untreated, it can greatly impact your overall quality of life, making it difficult to function or do the things that you used to enjoy. 

Depression affects millions of Americans each year. In fact, major depression is one of the most commonly seen mental health conditions in the United States.


The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that major depressive disorder affects 16.1 million American adults. That’s 6.7% of the adult population. 


With this being such a widespread condition, we have to talk about what depression really is, how it’s affecting Americans on a daily basis, and the best channels to receive treatment.

Symptoms of Depression

While there are a number of symptoms of depression, some of the most commonly seen symptoms include:

Having a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy

Changes in appetite – weight loss/gain

Fatigue

Having a hard time concentrating

Sleep changes—this could be sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep enough

Feeling sad

Feeling guilty and or worthless 

Thoughts of suicide 

If you’re unsure if you’re depressed take our depression quiz here.

This quiz has compiled questions from renowned depression tests and is designed to assess mental health in terms of depressive symptoms, that said only a doctor can diagnose depression and your results should not be taken as an official diagnosis.

Speaking With a Doctor About Mental Health Concerns

It’s important to speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about your mental health. Many people don’t realize just how treatable depression is. While medication is not always a part of treatment, it is an effective option.


It’s important to remember that antidepressants are not a cure for depression but rather one component of a comprehensive treatment plan.


A barrier for many when seeking help is the belief they need to see an expensive psychiatrist or therapist for treatment.These are valuable resources, but many times they have longer waiting lists, and may too expensive.

A good starting point is an appointment with a primary care physician. In most cases they are fully qualified to access your mental health and recommend treatment, including antidepressant prescriptions, or they can refer you to a specialist. 


If you are suffering, know that depression is treatable, and the sooner you speak with your doctor about your concerns, the better. 


Another important thing to note is that if you have any symptoms of depression or anxiety, your doctor will also want to rule out any other potential underlying causes that may mimic depression.

The American Psychiatric Association states that certain medical conditions like thyroid health conditions and vitamin deficiencies should be ruled out when there are symptoms of depression.

A primary care physician can run tests to make sure that there isn’t an underlying issue.

What Antidepressants Can Be Prescribed by Your Primary Care Physician?

Now that you know your primary care physician can prescribe antidepressants, let’s talk about which medications they can write a prescription for. 

When it comes to medication choice, it’s all going to come down to what you and your doctor thinks will work best based for your symptoms, other current medications and your medical history.

With that being said, here are some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. 

Zoloft (sertraline) 

Lexapro (escitalopram) 

Cymbalta (duloxetine hydrochloride)

Celexa (citalopram) 

Prozac (fluoxetine) 

Paxil (paroxetine)


Read: Medication For Anxiety and Depression


  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

Book an appointment PlushCare-App-Steps

What Can Antidepressants Be Prescribed For?

While antidepressants are most commonly prescribed for depression treatment, depending on the medication, they can be prescribed for other reasons as well. 

Here are some of the conditions antidepressants are prescribed for. 

Get Your Antidepressant Prescription Online 

Whether you want to speak with a doctor about a new prescription, or you are in need of a refill, you can get your antidepressants prescribed online by a primary care physician.

PlushCare provides you with access to a network of board certified doctors who are qualified to assess your physical and mental health remotely.

If they find that you may benefit from an antidepressant prescription they will electronically send your prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.


To book an online appointment, click here.


Can Therapy Treat Depression?

Yes, therapy is an effective treatment approach for depression. Many people with depression choose to try therapy instead of medication or do both at the same time for a faster recovery.

PlushCare is now offering online therapy in California (more states coming soon) so you can get emotional support from a licensed professional. Our trusted therapists are highly trained to treat many mental health conditions including depression and anxiety.

You’ll meet with your therapist once a week to receive on-going care and support as you work through your treatment.

Many therapy patients report improved mood, raised energy levels and reduced stress soon after starting therapy.



Read More About Antidepressants


Note: PlushCare does not have online psychiatrists at this time. That said, our primary care physicians are able to prescribe mental health medications such as antidepressants, and if necessary can provide you with a referral to a psychiatrist.

Resources

Anxiety And Depression Association of America. Facts and Statistics. Accessed December 6, 2019 at https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

American Psychiatric Association. What is Depression? Accessed December 6, 2019 at https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression 

National Institute of Mental Health. Major Depression. Accessed December 6, 2019 at https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression.shtml

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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