Psychiatry: How Can It Help Me?
Psychiatry is a branch of medicine concerned with diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental health conditions and behavioral disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has chosen to specialize in psychiatry. This means that they can assess and treat both physical and mental components of a psychological problem. They can also prescribe medication and offer other treatment options.
Psychiatrists have an in-depth understanding of physical and mental health and how they affect each other. They diagnose and treat mental health conditions such as depression, attention disorders, behavioral health problems, and eating disorders. Often, they go on to work at psychiatric hospitals and counseling practices.
Psychiatrists use various treatments, including psychotherapy, medications, and psychosocial interventions. They can also conduct psychological tests to assess the presence of mental disorders. The treatment plan they prescribe is tailored to the individual and their specific needs.
You may find it hard to seek treatment of mental health problems, which is not unusual. It can be hard to talk about difficult thoughts and feelings. You are certainly not alone—mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people. Sometimes, simple factors like your job and other commitments can make attending an appointment difficult.
There are also additional individual concerns that one might have. However, this does not mean that you are unable to get the support that you need. At Thriveworks, you can attend the majority of your appointments online. But keep in mind that there are instances where you might need to come in for an assessment.
Online psychiatry is an effective way to receive psychiatric help from the comfort of your own home.
What Is Online Psychiatry?
You can access a range of psychiatric services including psychological tests, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication management online. There are many reasons why you may decide to speak to a psychiatrist online rather than in person. For instance:
- You live far away from a psychiatric clinic or have no way to get there
- You are a parent, and find it difficult to seek care for your children during appointment times
- You look after an elderly relative or disabled family member, making it difficult to arrange appointments
- There are no psychiatrists in your local area
- You feel more comfortable talking to someone over the phone or on video chat
- Your physical or mental health condition makes it hard to leave the house
- Your work hours are restrictive, and you are unable to attend appointments within your working hours
By attending an appointment via video or phone, you can help remove these barriers to accessing effective mental health care.
What Are the Benefits of Online Psychiatry?
Dr. Shaheen E. Lakhan, MD, Ph.D., Medical Director at Thriveworks, discusses some of the benefits of online psychiatry. "The benefits of virtual mental health services include being seen in the comfort of your own home, bringing care back to the patient, and no more issues with transportation, childcare, missing work, parking, registration, or waiting room."
Although there are practical benefits to online psychiatry as discussed above, Dr. Lakhan explains some of the broader benefits. "Studies show that when you have more access to on-demand healthcare, your health and wellbeing actually improve at a better rate," says Dr. Lakhan. "Further, it may reduce the barrier of the stigma associated with seeing a mental health expert."
Some people feel more comfortable seeking support from their homes. With advancements in technology, online psychiatry has become a viable and effective option for many people with mental health concerns.
Therapist vs. Psychiatrist: What’s the Difference?
Psychiatrists are highly qualified and able to diagnose, treat, and manage a wide range of problems. They can also prescribe and manage medication for their clients. They attended medical school to obtain the necessary knowledge, skills, experience and training to help people like you. Therapists, on the other hand, focus on helping people address their problems and can provide different types of therapy.
Examples of why you may seek psychiatric help include:
- Symptoms of mental illness like hallucinations, stress, anxiety, negative or depressive thoughts, obsessive thinking, delusions, memory problems, or emotional outbursts
- Self-harm, hurting other people, or worrying other people are going to hurt you
- Uncontrolled addictive behaviors like gambling
- Symptoms of an eating disorder or problems with body image
- Concentration and hyperactivity concerns
- Issues of violence and aggression
- Problems with long term insomnia and other sleep disorders
- Management of an ongoing condition diagnosed in childhood, such as autism or ADHD
- You are seeking support to manage post-traumatic stress disorder
- You want to start or make changes to psychiatric medication
Can Online Psychiatry Help Everyone?
While online psychiatry is a great option for many, Dr. Lakhan explains that it is not suitable for everyone. "Due to limitations on monitoring and safety assessments, at Thriveworks we currently cannot manage certain problems online." For example, the following people cannot be treated in online psychiatry at Thriveworks:
- Pediatric or adolescent clients under the age of 18
- Individuals with active psychosis, history of schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, or unstable bipolar disorder
- Anyone who is imminently at risk of suicide
In-person psychiatry is the safest option for anyone in crisis or suffering from a severe or unstable mental health problem.
For most common mental health conditions, research shows that they can be treated just as effectively online. A study comparing online psychiatry with in-person treatment for depressed veterans showed that they had comparable outcomes. They also had equivalent levels of patient adherence, patient satisfaction, and health care cost.
Another review suggests that online psychiatry is particularly useful for depression, ADHD, and PTSD. These are just a few of the studies carried out to assess the benefits of online psychiatry. The research is encouraging. It is proven to be an effective form of therapy alone or in conjunction with other treatment methods such as medication.
What Is Medication Management? Why Is It Important?
Medication is often an effective treatment option for several mental health problems, and medication management is a vital aspect of psychiatry. Here is what it entails:
- Prescribing medication
- Instructing a client how to take medication safely and appropriately
- Providing education on reactions to other drugs, side effects, and any specific medication guidelines
- Checking in to ensure medication is working effectively
- Altering the medication dose if needed
- Monitoring and managing side effects
- Stopping unnecessary medications
- Ensuring multiple medicines do not negatively interact
Your psychiatrist will be sure to confirm that you understand and accept the above, including how to take your medicine and what side effects you might experience. They will want to know that you accept the terms and understand exactly how you should take your medication.
"About 1 in 6 adult Americans are on medications for their mental health," states Dr. Lakhan. "Online management allows for safe, appropriate, and convenient access to medication. It increases patient engagement in their journey towards mental health and wellness," he goes on to advise.
Teaching someone why and how they need to take a specific medication can encourage them to take a more active role in maintaining their mental health. Often, psychiatric problems can become out of control purely because a medication has not been managed.
A simple medication review can reveal that the dose needs altering or the client is not compliant with medication. Improving medication compliance has been found to improve outcomes for the client. Psychiatrists can prescribe and manage many medications, as well as offer other treatment options for mental health concerns.
Is There a Psychiatrist Near Me?
Psychiatric services are not always easy to access. According to Mental Health America, over 10 million US adults report an unmet need for mental health care. Fortunately, online psychiatry increases access to quality mental health care. With no traveling or wait times, this type of virtual healthcare can be very advantageous. Online psychiatry is often found to be more cost-effective for the individual, too.
In closing this message we want to remind you that you are not alone. If you have mental health concerns, questions about your medication, or feel you need some support, consider booking an appointment. You can find a psychiatrist near you at Thriveworks. We have 1,000+ mental health professionals at over 150 offices nationwide.
You can schedule an appointment with any psychiatrist in your state. As we have mentioned, most of your psychiatry appointments can take place online. This improves comfort, convenience, and reliability. To schedule, call your local Thriveworks office or using the online booking navigation. If you have questions about this navigation or otherwise continuing your pursuit for psychiatry at Thriveworks, we are here to help.