Serving the Lowcountry and Coastal Empire of Georgia and South Carolina.

How Your Primary Care Doctor Supports Your Mental Health

Wednesday, May 1, 2024


Just as their name suggests, primary care providers (PCPs) are often your first point of contact when seeking professional care for any ailment you’re facing. Mental health challenges are no exception. In the past decade, the percentage of primary care visits addressing mental health concerns has continually increased, with PCPs treating a growing number of patients for anxiety in particular.

While no one wants to see an uptick in any conditions, we take comfort in the fact that patients are reaching out for help when it comes to mental health challenges. Here at SouthCoast Health, we welcome any concerns related to your mental health and will offer the right resources based on your specific needs. Here are some types of support our providers can offer.

Discussion of Symptoms & Diagnosis

If you’re not feeling emotionally quite like yourself, you may have researched your symptoms online. But no internet search can replace the experience and training of your PCP. By listening to your symptoms and asking follow-up questions, your PCP can get a clear picture of which mental health condition may be affecting you, if any. They have the know-how and credentials to make an accurate diagnosis, as well as an understanding of your physical health and family history, which then enables you to get the right treatment.

For this reason, it’s important to be honest and direct about the mental health symptoms you’re experiencing, their severity, and how often you encounter them. Each mental illness has unique characteristics, but some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Irritability or drastic mood changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of enthusiasm over activities you once enjoyed
  • Negative thoughts
  • Appetite changes
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Finding day-to-day routines challenging
  • Increased anxiousness or worrying

Suggestions in a Safe Space

Your PCP is here to provide holistic care, encompassing your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. While it may feel unfamiliar to discuss emotional and mental wellness with a person you usually see for physical health matters, our team is here to reassure you that you’re not alone in your struggles and that our offices are safe spaces to seek help confidentially. Moreover, more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness, so you’re certainly not alone.

Depending on your symptoms and condition, your PCP may offer lifestyle recommendations to support your mental health. For instance, regular exercise, journaling, and meditation are often first lines of treatment for conditions with mild symptoms.

Referrals to Specialists

Sometimes, you may need further treatment to manage a mental illness. Counselors and psychiatric professionals, for example, offer approaches like talk therapy, which can allow you to understand your condition better and develop tools for managing it. Some even specialize in certain areas of mental health, such as healing from trauma, family counseling, and coping with depression or anxiety. Your PCP can make an informed recommendation and refer you to the specialist best suited to your specific needs.


While specialists like psychiatrists can prescribe medications like antidepressants to treat mental illnesses alongside other therapies and approaches, you may also receive a prescription from your PCP if they deem it necessary. This may be the case if your symptoms are interfering with your normal routine, or if you’d like to start treatment right away.

Schedule a Behavioral Health Appointment Today

A final but important way our physicians support your mental illness is by being your ongoing partner in comprehensive wellness. During your visits, our PCPs will perform active monitoring to ensure you have the resources you need to manage your mental health effectively. We also offer behavioral health services through a licensed social worker to support you through any mental health challenges you may encounter. To schedule an appointment, view our list of providers online and call 912.691.3600.

Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Hilton Head, Hinesville, and Statesboro. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Asthma, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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