Health Professionals

Because contrary to popular belief men can't fix everything themselves.

Men are wired to try to fix problems on their own. Instead of calling a plumber, they use super glue to plug a leak. Instead of calling an electrician, they use duct tape to fix a broken switch.

And instead of calling a health professional, they use alcohol or undertake reckless activities to deal with health issues. Or they keep their head in the sand.

Stop treating your brain like a leaky toilet or a flickering light bulb. Start seeking professional help when you need it. In this section, you'll find recommended professionals in your area. Dr. Ironwood can help you find the right kind of pro for your state of mind

What does the bloke do?

The thought of professional help often makes a man squirm like an earthworm on a rainy day. But it shouldn't. Health professionals can work with you on personal issues, thinking through tough decisions and bettering yourself and your life.

And don't forget, these guys are like girlfriends – you click with some of them and others, well, they just don't 'get you'. If you find after a session or two that your Health Professional just isn't 'doing it for you', then maybe you need to do a bit more research and find one that matches your needs.

General Practitioners

For most blokes a trip to the doctor is seen as a last resort, like when that dose of the Flu you've had for a week just won't go away or the injury you got playing football on Saturday is still hurting like hell the next week. Well that's not all they are there for. They're also there to talk to you about how you're feeling as well – like if you are anxious or depressed.

If you haven't seen a doctor since the mighty Lions last won the Premiership, you might want to ask your mates if they are happy with their doctors and go with a recommendation.

Unfortunately, doctors are usually flat chat at the times of the day that are most convenient – like lunchtime or straight after work – so check your schedule to see if there's a time you can make. And before you go, make some notes about what you want to talk about. If you've taken my Mind Quiz make sure you've emailed that to yourself and take a copy with you.

Probably the first question your doctor will ask you will be a direct 'So what can I do for you?'

The most important thing a doctor can do is listen, so talk about the symptoms you've been experiencing, whether it be what's happening at home or work, how much you're sleeping, how much you're drinking/smoking and the events that have led to you feeling the way you are. Remember, like a good investigator, this is all part of collecting the evidence base the doctor needs to give you the best advice.

And don't forget, if you are regularly seeing a doctor, you should also chat to them about the following stuff, depending on your age and other personal situations:

20s, 30s & 40s 50 and over
Your family medical History All of those... plus
Chat about how you are feeling Blood tests – blood sugar and cholesterol
Blood pressure Prostate cancer testing
Skin cancer check Bowel cancer screening
Weight and physical activity Kidney health
Immunisations
Sexual health
Anything else

Counsellors and Psychologists

Unlike that one mate who can’t keep his mouths shut, conversations between you and your psychologist or counsellor are confidential.

For the record, a psychologist is a health professional with a specific range of qualifications – but they are not a doctor. A counsellor might work in a range of places, but are generally less qualified as psychologists. Anybody can call themselves a counsellor, but the good ones have proper qualifications, and are registered with a professional society – ask them before you book.

No matter whether you are seeing a psychologist or a qualified counsellor, it’s best to come to the session with a specific issue of concern and a goal in mind. You may be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire before your appointment. Appointments usually last an hour.

Therapy works best if you participate actively. Don’t be shy. You’re paying the therapist to listen, so tell him/her whatever is on your mind, and make the most of every visit.

Your therapist may give you homework between appointments. Since this isn’t high school, I recommend you actually do it.

Psychiatrists

Contrary to popular belief and all those Hollywood movies, psychiatrists don't wear white coats, sport pointy grey beards and have a leather couch in their office for you to lie on. Similar to a psychologist they are there to help lift some of that weight from your shoulders.

For the record, the key differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree which means they can combine medication with other forms of treatment.

Medications for depression and anxiety usually make people feel better, and they won't change your personality or make you feel happy all the time – they will make you yourself. Of course, like any medication, some people will have some side effects, but as long as you are talking openly with your psychiatrist these side effects can be minimised.


 


How much do these blokes cost?

The cost of seeing a health professional for depression and anxiety varies, but you shouldn't need to mortgage the house. In the same way that people can get a Medicare rebate when they see a General Practitioner, they can also get part or all of the consultation fee subsidised when they see a health professional for treatment of depression or anxiety.

Qualifying for these rebates is usually as simple as having had a Mental Health Treatment Plan drawn up by a GP, or in some instances via a referral from a psychiatrist. If you are unsure if you are eligible for subsidised treatment, check with your GP.

Also, there are many private health insurance companies and a range of coverage levels available. If you have private health cover, it is recommended that you contact your private health insurance company to find out if psychological services are covered and to what level.

It is important to recognise that professional treatment doesn't have to cost very much and can have lifelong benefits.

There are government rebates available to help pay part of the cost of psychological treatments undertaken with the mental health practitioners listed.

For more information, check out the info in this fact sheet:

Download Getting help - How much does it cost? fact sheet


What did that bloke prescribe?

The main medical treatment for people with moderate to severe depression is antidepressant medication.

There is a lot of misinformation about antidepressant medication and while there is no simple explanation as to how it works, it can be very useful in the treatment of moderate to severe depression (and some anxiety disorders).

An important thing to remember is that antidepressants are not "happy pills", rather they give you some space to take action.

Sometimes, antidepressants are prescribed when other treatments have not been successful or when psychological treatments are not possible due to the severity of the illness or a lack of access to treatment.

Who can prescribe?

Only your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist can prescribe medications. Psychologists are not doctors, and so cannot prescribe medication.

Which antidepressant should be used?

Making a decision about which antidepressant is best for a person can be complex. The decision is made in consultation with a doctor, after careful assessment and consideration. You need to help your doctor by providing as much information as possible about yourself and your medical history. Important factors include your age, symptoms, and other medications.

Many different types of antidepressant medication have been shown to work, but their effectiveness differs from person to person. Antidepressants can up to six weeks before they start to work, and it may also take some time for the doctor to find the most suitable medication and dosage.

What are the side effects?

Antidepressants can make people feel better, but they won't change their personality or make them feel happy all the time. Like taking any other medication, some people will experience some side effects. Common side effects, depending on which medication is taken, include nausea, headaches, anxiety, sweating, dizziness, agitation, weight gain, dry mouth and sexual difficulties (e.g. difficulty becoming/staying aroused).

Some of these symptoms can be short-lived, but people who experience any of these symptoms should tell their doctor, as there are ways of minimising them. The likelihood of a particular side effect happening varies between individuals and medications.

How long are antidepressants usually needed?

Like any medication, the length of time a person needs to take antidepressants for depends on how severe the illness is and how they respond to treatment. Some people only need to take them for a short time, while others may need to take them over the longer term, just like someone with diabetes might use insulin or someone with asthma would use ventolin. Stopping antidepressant medication should only be done gradually, on a doctor's recommendation and under supervision.

Everyone needs to find the treatment that's right for them. Just because a treatment has been shown to work scientifically, doesn't mean it will work equally well for every individual. Some people will have complications, side effects or find that the treatment does not fit in with their lifestyle. It can take time, strength and patience to find a treatment that works.

After seeking appropriate advice, the best approach is to try a treatment you're comfortable with and one that works for most people. If you do not recover quickly enough, or experience problems with the treatment, discuss this with your health professional and consider trying another.

Types of antidepressants

There is a wide range of antidepressant medication available. Find out more about your options in this fact sheet:

Download Antidepressant medication fact sheet


Where do I find these blokes?

Now you know what these blokes do, find your nearest health professional by clicking through to beyondblue's Practitioner Directory.

PRACTITIONER DIRECTORY

That bloke is already helping me with a chronic illness. Do I need to talk about how I'm feeling too?

A sudden or unexpected health event – such as a heart attack, diagnosis of cancer, or other serious illness or injury – can change your life in many ways. Feelings of shock, anger, grief, loss and sadness are common, and usually pass with time. If changes to your life cause ongoing stress, however, you may be at greater risk of developing depression or anxiety.

What to watch for:

Most people recover or adjust to life after a serious health event without experiencing depression and anxiety. Others, however, can find their emotional wellbeing affected.

How you react emotionally to a serious health event depends on many things – including your age, personality, values, life experience, the type of health event that occurs, and the amount of support you have.

Common reactions that happen straight away can include shock, fear, disbelief and uncertainty. As you start coming to terms with your situation, you may feel other emotions, such as sadness, loss, grief, worry, anger, guilt, loneliness and wanting to blame someone or something for what has happened.

Causes

Along with the physical changes that result from a serious health event, it is also common to experience emotional and psychological reactions. Emotional challenges may include:

  • Coming to terms with 'Why me? What did I do to do deserve this?'
  • Being faced with your own mortality and thinking 'How serious is this? Am I going to die? What will happen to my family?'
  • Worrying that each minor ache or pain is the illness returning
  • Dealing with the uncertainty of the illness, feeling powerless and imagining the worst
  • Wondering where you fit now in both your professional and personal life
  • Adjusting to long-term changes to your lifestyle
  • Grieving for your loss of health or your life as it was before
  • Making family, work and financial adjustments
  • Dealing with the responses of partners, children, family and friends.

Some changes you face may be temporary, while others will be permanent and more difficult to deal with. A change that affects one person may not affect someone else in the same way.

With time, most people find that although their life has changed in some ways, in other ways it goes back to its usual pattern. However, if changes cause ongoing stress and worry, the person may be at greater risk of developing depression or anxiety.

What can I do?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether you are feeling down because of all the changes in your life, or if you have symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both. In some cases, depression or anxiety can affect people after the initial experience and even beyond treatment.

If you're unsure if what you're feeling is a normal reaction to what is happening in your life, talk to your doctor, another health professional or a member of your health care team. By discussing your experiences with you, a health professional can help you to work out if you may be experiencing depression or anxiety, and whether you could benefit from additional advice or treatment.

Also, make sure you check out the rest of Man Therapy for some great ideas about the steps to take. Just make sure you chat to your professional team, particularly around exercise or other similar pursuits.

And remember to talk to others, spend time with people you make you feel good, and do stuff you used to enjoy, but also give yourself time to relax.

Download Chronic physical illness and depression fact sheet