Psychiatric medicines are important in the treatment of many mental health conditions and have helped many people to see an improvement in their mental health.

There are a range of different professions in mental health – psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists – the list goes on. Many people wonder who can actually prescribe medicines. This article takes a look at this.

Psychiatric medicines can be very effective for many people

Who can prescribe Antidepressants?

Common psychiatric medicines like Antidepressants can be prescribed by your GP – or General Practitioner, who will work at a GP surgery. Most people will initially be prescribed an antidepressant by their GP.

Aside from GP’s, antidepressants can also be prescribed by a psychiatrist, a specially-trained pharmacist or a nurse prescriber.

There are a few types of antidepressants that can only be taken under the supervision of a trained mental health professional. However, these are older medicines that are very rarely used in the modern day.

Who can prescribe Antipsychotics?

Antipsychotics will often be prescribed by a psychiatrist in a secondary care setting – such as a Community Mental Health Team.

However, GP’s are also trained to prescribe antipsychotics if necessary. They normally wouldn’t provide the first prescription, but in some cases they can.

As before, specially-trained pharmacists and nurse prescribers are also able to prescribe antipsychotics. But due to the complexity of these medicines, a psychiatrist should ideally be the one prescribing them at first.

Who can prescribe Mood Stabilisers?

Mood stabilisers can be a rather grey area. As a general rule, it should only be specialised mental health professionals – rather than a GP – that prescribe mood stabilisers.

The best known mood stabiliser – Lithium – can be prescribed by a GP, but only in certain circumstances. As mentioned, it is likely that Lithium will only be prescribed by a mental health professional – after a proper assessment has been carried out.

However, the common mood stabiliser Lamotrigine (Lamictal) can be prescribed by a GP. Sodium Valproate (Depakote) can also normally be prescribed by a GP.

The mood stabiliser Carbamazepine (Tegtretol) should only be prescribed by a specialist. It would be incredibly rare for a GP to prescribe this mood stabiliser.

Who can prescribe Benzodiazepines?

Benzodiazepines like Diazepam (Valium) and Lorazepam (Ativan) can be prescribed by a GP. This is very common, despite their potential for abuse.

Psychiatrists, specially-trained pharmacists and nurse prescribers can also all prescribe them. They are normally only prescribed for a short amount of time.

Who can prescribe “off-license” or unlicensed drugs?

Off-license prescribing refers to when a health professional prescribes a medicine that isn’t officially licensed to treat the condition it is being prescribed for. You can read more about what this means by looking at our article on this here.

GP’s can prescribe medicines off-license. It is normally left to them to do such things – with it rare that any other health professional does this. However, specially-trained pharmacist prescribers can prescribe these if needed.


It is easy to get confused in the midst of all of the different types of health professionals – especially when they all have different roles. But as seen, there is a lot of consistency in how they prescribe medicines.

Regardless of who prescribes your medicine, the important thing is that it helps you and improves your mental health.

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