Online Psychiatry: Why Meet with a Psychiatric Professional?
We are fortunate enough to live in an era when mental health problems aren’t blamed on demons, supernatural curses, black bile, and other thoroughly debunked causes. For example, if someone is suffering from a bipolar or depressive episode, it’s fantastic that they don’t have the additional worry of being mistaken for a medieval witch. Today’s psychiatric experts understand more about the origins and effective treatments of mental health disorders than ever before.
And that’s great news because most people have been affected by a serious mental health condition, either directly or indirectly. One in five American adults experience mental illness every year. Depression. Anxiety. Eating disorders. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Personality disorders. The list goes on. These issues are common enough that most people have heard of them and are at least vaguely aware of their symptoms.
But treatment options can be confusing. If you’ve been depressed for weeks and your symptoms are worsening, who do you call for help? For serious mental health issues, it often makes the most sense to start with a psychiatric professional.
What Do Psychiatric Practitioners Do?
Psychiatry is a branch of medicine concerned with diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental health disorders. Psychiatrists (MDs) are medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. This means that they are licensed to treat mental health conditions with prescription medication as well as supportive therapeutic approaches. Today, board certified psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs) provide this same service, have specialized training in psychiatry and medical nursing and are supervised by board certified psychiatrists. Psychiatrists in the community have become less available and wait times can be months. At Thriveworks, we choose to employ psychiatric nurse practitioners so that we can more immediately serve the demands of the growing mental health crisis.
Do psychiatrists and NP treat mental illness? Yes, pretty much exclusively. Psychiatrists and nurse practitioners have an in-depth understanding of mental health and the underlying neurobiology that can influence dysfunction. In the United States, Psychiatrists and NP often rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), to diagnose psychological and behavioral problems that impair functioning. Their treatment plans may include psychotropic drugs like antidepressants to alleviate the symptoms of these disorders.
What Is the Difference Between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
What makes psychiatrists and nurse practitioners different from psychologists and other mental health professionals? Psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Every licensed psychiatrist graduated from medical school, where they gained extensive knowledge about the body, the mind, and the interactions between the two. Similarly, every psychiatric nurse practitioner first went to nursing school, then did intensive multi year specialized training in psychiatry to be able to prescribe medications. This allows them to treat mental illness in a holistic way, addressing any potential physical causes of mental issues, and vice versa.
Psychiatrists and nurse practitioners routinely collaborate with licensed therapists, clinical social workers, and professional counselors to offer medication management services to Thriveworks talk therapy clients. Studies demonstrate that treatment with medications and psychotherapy is far more effective and long lasting than either treatment alone.
Only psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) can prescribe medications. Psychologists and therapists can not.
When Should You See a Psychiatrist?
Why would you see a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner? There are a wide range of indications for psychiatry services, all of which impair functioning in some way. What is an example of psychiatric symptomatology? Let’s take a look at some symptoms that could signal that your brain needs care and attention:
- Obsessive thinking or behavioral patterns
- Self-harm, hurting other people, or worrying other people are going to hurt you
- Uncontrolled addictive behaviors involving things like alcohol use or gambling
- Changes in appetite, eating habits, or problems with body image
- Concentration, focus, and memory issues
- Dramatic changes in energy levels
- Issues of violence and aggression
- Extreme fears or anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Emotional outbursts
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Traumatic flashbacks
- Feelings of despair or worthlessness
- Abrupt or extreme changes in mood
Some mental health issues can be caused by underlying medical issues, substance use, or new medications. A psychiatrist or nurse practitioner will first want to rule out physiological causes for your distress. This may involve a full physical assessment in addition to your psychological intake.
What Is Online Psychiatric Care?
Online psychiatry, also called telepsychiatry, simply refers to psychiatric services provided over a secure telehealth connection. This means that you don’t have to visit your doctor or nurse practitioner in-person at their office or clinic. At Thriveworks, you can access most psychiatric services online including a comprehensive, non rushed assessment and medication management. Thriveworks psychiatrists and nurse practitioners treat a number of mental health issues online, including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, and emotional disorders.
Psychiatric services are not always easy to access. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, less than half of American adults with a mental illness received mental health services every year. Fortunately, online psychiatry increases access to quality mental health care. And with no traveling or wait times, this type of virtual healthcare can be advantageous to busy people. Online psychiatry is often found to be more cost-effective for the individual, too.
Research shows that both telepsychiatry clients and their providers are happy with their treatment outcomes. For most common mental health conditions, people can be treated just as effectively online as they can at a clinic. 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 encouraging studies that have demonstrated the virtues of online psychiatry.
What Are the Benefits of Online Psychiatry?
There are many reasons why you may benefit from speaking to a Thriveworks nurse practitioner online rather than in-person. For example:
- 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 who specialize in your issue or their wait time is too long
- You feel more comfortable talking to someone via video chat, from the comfort of your own home or office
- 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
- You don’t want to lose time commuting to a brick-and-mortar location
In short, online psychiatry at Thriveworks can be ideal for people who want speed to care that emphasizes comfort and convenience without sacrificing quality of care.
Who Can Thriveworks Psychiatrists Help?
Online psychiatric services aren’t suitable for everyone. For example, if someone is experiencing acute mental health symptoms or is in crisis, they need to see someone in person. Thriveworks does not offer telepsychiatry services to clients under the age of 14 or to clients with active psychosis (hearing voices), a history of schizophrenia, or unstable bipolar disorder with symptoms of hearing voices or wanting to harm yourself. Thriveworks is concerned about safety and since we treat people remotely, if you are having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988,, call 911, or go to your nearest Emergency Room.
What Is Medication Management? Why Is It Important?
Psychiatrists and nurse practitioners can prescribe medication, but their work doesn’t end there. Clients who start new medications or change their dosage must be monitored closely by their provider. Follow-up appointments evaluate clients for medication side effects and medication compliance, as well as improvements in their condition or a further need to improve by making changes. These telepsych appointments are 30 minutes in length to fully assess all of the issues related to your health. Many companies provide abbreviated appointments; however, at Thriveworks, we feel that you are best served by a more intensive, 30 minute appointment which is the standard of care in the community.
Finding the right medication for each individual sometimes requires a bit of trial and error. What works for one client may not work for another. But psychiatrists and nurse practitioners have a number of clinical tools available to help match clients to the right drugs and dosages. For example, if you are suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD), your provider may ask you about your family history. Often an antidepressant that works well for a blood relative will also work well for you due to genetic factors. A psychiatrist and NP will also take your weight, health history, other medications, and much more into account before writing a prescription.
In summary, medication management is a vital aspect of psychiatry which involves the following:
- Prescribing medication
- Instructing a client how to take medication safely and appropriately
- Talking through client questions and concerns about the medication
- Providing education on reactions to other drugs, side effects, and any specific medication guidelines
- Checking in to ensure medication is working effectively
- Making sure client is taking medication as prescribed
- Altering the type of medication or dosage if needed
- Monitoring and managing side effects
- Stopping unnecessary medications
- Ensuring multiple medicines do not negatively interact
Is There a Psychiatric Provider Near Me?
If you’re searching for exceptional online psychiatry services, Thriveworks is here for you. Our providers can meet with clients quickly over secure, HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing software. New clients often meet their provider via video within 3-5 days of scheduling.
Thriveworks understands the importance of finding a board-certified provider who has availability. For this reason, we do not operate with a waitlist. Instead, we schedule individuals with their first appointment immediately upon their call. Additionally, we offer benefits that can’t be beat — here’s how we stack up against other counseling services:
- No Waitlists: Average wait times for mental health care can be three weeks or more. At Thriveworks, new clients can often meet with their provider within 3-5 days of scheduling.
- Only Top Providers: The search for an exceptional provider can be discouraging. We hire only the top 4% of providers to join our team and provide the very best care to our clients.
- Full 50-60 Minute Sessions: Others hide how long your session is, and it’s often only 20-30 minutes. We offer full 50-60 minute sessions for an initial intake evaluation.
- Affordable Rates: Most counseling practices don’t take health insurance and have expensive rates, starting at $250 a session. We accept hundreds of insurance plans and offer affordable out-of-pocket rates as low as $99 a session.
- Evening and Weekend Appointments: Finding a convenient time to get mental health care is a challenge. We offer options that work with busy schedules like evening and weekend appointments.
- High-Touch Support: On-the-spot support is hard to come by. Our support team is available 7 days a week including holidays, and your provider is available between sessions by phone or email.
- Flexible Cancellations: Life happens, we get it. We have a flexible cancellation policy that lets you cancel or reschedule your session for free with just 23.5 hours’ notice.
- Real, Lasting Relationships: Many counseling services aren't practices but loosely affiliated directories of therapists. We have a full-time, dedicated team who build long-standing careers here and lasting relationships with clients.
You are not alone. If you have mental health concerns, questions about your medication, or feel you need some support, consider booking an online appointment at Thriveworks. If you think you could personally benefit from talking to a psychiatric provider, we are at your service.