Depression and anxiety are diagnosed by comparing the symptoms that someone is experiencing to known attributes of these conditions, using criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association. There are no physical symptoms or blood tests that need to be checked that indicate the presence of depression – instead, diagnosis and treatment relies on a psychiatric provider’s judgment.
Because of this, you don’t necessarily need to be together in person with a provider to effectively diagnose and treat depression and anxiety. Providers can review your symptoms, health history, and other considerations remotely, then verify their diagnosis and discuss treatment options in a conversation with you.
Delivering care online can offer the opportunity for closer monitoring and communication of treatment and progress over time. This is particularly relevant for antidepressant medication, as it’s common for your provider to need to refine your dose and medication based on your individual response.
Remote care isn’t a good fit for everyone. If you would like a physical exam or blood test prior to treatment or are more comfortable seeing a provider face to face, you should follow that path. People with certain conditions are not a good fit for remote care for depression: If you’re pregnant; if you have bipolar disorder or schizophrenia; if you’ve previously attempted suicide or are actively contemplating suicide; or if you have liver disease, kidney disease, seizures, or long QT syndrome, it’s better for you to see a provider in person to manage your care.