Written by Shannon,
Medically reviewed by:
Jen Miller, PMHNP-BC
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly caused a lot of stress and anxiety for everyone. In fact, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health posed by stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 morbidity in June 2020 alone.
Typically, feelings of depression and anxiety can be alleviated with in person therapeutic or psychiatric visits. But the pandemic has made that challenging.
On the bright side, advancements in technology have made it possible to continue to see psychiatric providers and be prescribed medication to alleviate depressive symptoms from the comfort of your own home.
It’s easy, safe, and convenient. Let’s look at how telepsychiatry can help with all of your mental health needs.
What is telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is the combination of two words: telemedicine and psychiatry. Telemedicine is a way of administering health services remotely via telecommunication technology. Recently, telemedicine has been used in addition to personal doctor visits, dental consultations, therapy appointments, and psychiatric evaluations.
Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. A psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner is a clinician who specializes in mental health. This differs from a psychologist or therapist, who have advanced degrees and focus more on forms of talk therapy. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners can prescribe medications, whereas a therapist cannot.
Telepsychiatry is the treatment of your mental disorders through use of remote communication. This usually takes the form of video calls with your provider, but it might also encompass messaging, email, or phone calls.
How does telepsychiatry work?
The first step is to schedule your first appointment. It’s okay to feel nervous or scared about your first appointment. To help ease your fears, we’ll take a look at some of the things you can expect during your first consultation.
First things first, be prepared for some questions. Your provider will want to get to know you a bit and understand why you’re here. There’s a good chance that they’ll want to know about your family medical history, so it’s a good idea to have some of that information on hand. Additionally, they’ll want to know of your own medical history, including any medications you’re currently using.
Based on your responses and how you’re feeling, your psychiatrist may recommend that you try using medication to help ease your symptoms. They’ll talk you through your options, how to use them, how they can help, and any potential side effects that they may entail. And they’re always ready to answer any questions you might have, so don’t hesitate to ask.
Your first appointment will normally take around 15 to 30 minutes. During your appointment, it’s entirely normal to feel some emotions throughout. You can cry, feel nervous, or upset. Your provider understands and is here to help you. Just keep in mind that you are taking an important and brave first step towards improving your mental health.
How will I get my medication?
If your psychiatric provider has recommended that you take medication for your depression or anxiety, they can usually send a prescription to your local pharmacy.
Here at Brightside Health, we can deliver your medications directly to your door. No need to take a trip to the pharmacy, even for refills.
How do antidepressants work?
Antidepressants are a bit of a misnomer, because they can be used to treat all different types of mental health conditions. In addition to depression, they can be used to help with anxiety disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
If you’re recommended an antidepressant, SSRIs, or, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are commonly prescribed. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps regulate things like mood, sleep, appetite, and more. Depression is associated with low levels of serotonin in the brain.
When you take an SSRI, the brain blocks the reabsorption of serotonin into your brain’s neurons, essentially increasing its abundance and availability for use. This can help to balance your mood and help you feel more pleasure, less fatigued, and overall more yourself.
At Brightside, we’ve designed the best psychiatric care available to be delivered to you from the comfort of your own home. After analyzing your symptoms, we match you with the medications most likely to work for you. In the event your symptoms continue, your provider will make adjustments and/or recommend another medication until your treatment is just right for your individual needs.
If SSRIs don’t work for you, then you may also be prescribed an SNRI or NDRI. These work in similar ways as SSRIs, but they instead block the absorption of norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine is a hormone that affects our body’s stress response, and dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure.
What kinds of antidepressants are available to me?
There are a large number of antidepressant medications available, each with their own sets of benefits and side effects. As everyone experiences anxiety and depression differently, one medication may work for one person, might not work for another.
This is why it is important to work with an expert psychiatric provider who can match you with the right medication for your individual needs.
Common SSRI medications include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft). The most commonly prescribed NDRI is bupropion, or Wellbutrin, while SNRIs include Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq.
Again, there is no medication that is better or worse than another. Brightside focuses on precision-prescribing to avoid any second-guessing. After all, your body is unique, so it may take some experimentation before you find the perfect fit. Telepsychiatry has proven to be just as effective as traditional in-person experiences while allowing you the convenience to kick back and get the support you need from a relaxing setting of your choice.
Is therapy recommended while taking medication?
While therapy alone and medication alone are more effective than no treatment at all, the most effective way to help with any mental disorder is a combination of both. These days the availability and convenience of teletherapy make doing so a simple and highly effective way to combat your depression and anxiety. Medication and therapy together offer up to a 60% better chance of recovery as opposed to doing just one.
Research has shown that teletherapy can be just as effective as therapy in person. There are numerous advantages to teletherapy. For example, you do not need to spend time and money traveling to in-person appointments. You can meet with your therapist when it is convenient for you and in the comfort of your own home.
With Brightside, you can attend therapy appointments remotely. You can get the treatment you deserve in a convenient and seamless way in a relaxing setting of your choice. In conjunction with taking medication, this can help you access the support right for your needs.
Telemedicine and telepsychiatry has come a long way, and being able to seek mental health treatment by using your phone or laptop is useful for many different reasons such as being able to seek help from the privacy of anywhere without fear of being stigmatized.
Telepsychiatry works in a very similar way to a traditional psychiatric consultation, the only difference is that you aren’t actually face to face. During your first session, you’ll still answer the same questions and may be prescribed medications to be delivered directly to you.
Antidepressants may work great for you on their own, but utilizing a combination method with medication and therapy is the most effective way to go. Taking advantage of the convenience of telepsychiatry is a great way to ensure you have the correct medication to treat your depression and anxiety.
Brightside makes it simple and affordable to get expert, personalized treatment for depression and anxiety, from the comfort of your own home.