Everyone suffers from anxiety from time to time, it’s simply a part of the human condition. However, if constant feelings of anxiety are impacting your life and making it difficult for you to complete daily tasks and enjoy relationships, it’s probably time to seek the services of a psychiatrist for anxiety.
Why Seek Treatment?
Some people mistakenly believe that chronic feelings of anxiety are “normal,” and while we all do feel nervous or anxious once in a while, millions of Americans suffer from daily feelings of anxiety, and this is a serious mental health issue that affects your ability to function and live your life to the fullest.
For many people, chronic anxiety makes it difficult for them to work or handle school or even complete daily tasks. Anxiety can impact your social life and have a negative impact on your relationships. The good news is that there are many treatment options available, and while it can take time to find a treatment plan that fully meets your needs, anxiety can be lessened, and you can live a happier, healthier and much easier life.
Too often, people with anxiety disorders feel ashamed about seeking treatment for anxiety, mistakenly believing they are weak or should just be able to handle their problems. The truth is millions of people suffer from chronic anxiety. In fact, it’s estimated that about 30% of adults suffer from an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
An anxiety disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, it is simply a medical disorder just like diabetes or high blood pressure or asthma. Just like the latter three diseases, there are many ways to successfully treat anxiety. If you seek medical help for your high blood pressure, seeking medical help for anxiety is truly no different.
Why A Psychiatrist?
People with anxiety have the option of working with therapists and psychologists, and while this is always an excellent option, you may also need to contact and work with a psychiatrist for anxiety and there are several reasons why.
1. Psychiatrists Can Evaluate Your Medical Health
Unlike therapists or psychologists, psychiatrists are medical doctors, which gives them a unique perspective. Unlike a psychologist or even a primary care physician, we can diagnose and treat both mental health issues as well as other types of health conditions that may be affecting your mental health.
There are many physical health conditions and medications that can cause anxiety disorder symptoms. If we can work to improve your physical health, this often can help reduce your anxiety, as well.
2. Psychiatrists Can Provide Medication
While psychologists can diagnose mental health conditions, they cannot prescribe medication, which is why you likely will need the support of a psychiatrist. Several different types of medications have been shown to reduce or eliminate symptoms of anxiety disorders and this can be an approach to consider.
Keep in mind, treatment for anxiety disorders should include more than medication. Medication can be hugely beneficial, but it is even more beneficial when we also provide patients with cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy. Behavioral therapy can provide you with helpful tools to help you manage stressful situations and reduce anxiety and talk therapy can help you work through problems.
It’s also important to note that medication takes time to work, and it can take time to find the right dosage for each individual. Some medications also have side effects, such as nausea, dizziness and fatigue. While this may resolve after a few weeks of taking the medication, it’s important for patients to have realistic expectations about medication.
3. Psychiatrists Can Help With Co-Occurring Disorders
Many patients with anxiety disorders also suffer from other mental illnesses, such as depression or PTSD or OCD or perhaps bipolar disorder. My focus is always on getting to the root of all of the issues and illnesses is facing to create the best possible treatment plan.
We can treat your anxiety, but if you also have an eating disorder or perhaps ADHD or bipolar disorder, we need to treat those as well to ensure that all of your health needs are met.
While mental health professionals such as psychologists and therapists can provide many types of behavioral and talk therapy for people with co-occurring disorders, a psychiatrist also can help with medication management for co-occurring disorders. This can be tricky as certain medications can interact and we must find the best possible combinations of medications and therapies for each patient.
In addition to my services as an anxiety psychiatrist, I also offer services as a depression psychiatrist and PTSD psychiatrist. I also treat bipolar disorder, ADHD, addiction and any other co-occurring disorders you may have along with an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Treatment for anxiety disorders often varies based on the type of anxiety disorder a patient might have, and there are several disorders recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and listed in that organization’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), including:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Persistent and excessive worry about various aspects of life, such as work, health, family, or finances.
Panic Disorder: Recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear or discomfort, accompanied by physical and cognitive symptoms.
Agoraphobia: Fear and avoidance of situations where escape might be difficult, or help might not be available in the event of a panic attack or other incapacitating symptoms.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Intense fear of social situations in which the individual may be scrutinized, judged, or embarrassed.
Specific Phobia: Marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation (e.g., flying, heights, animals, receiving injections, or seeing blood). Exposure therapy often can be a helpful treatment for some phobias.
Separation Anxiety Disorder: Excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from attachment figures, typically in children but can also occur in adults.
Selective Mutism: Consistent failure to speak in specific social situations despite the ability to speak in other situations, usually affecting children.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): In the DSM-5, PTSD is classified as a trauma- and stressor-related disorder, but it often is associated with anxiety disorders. We have many new treatments for PTSD that can be quite helpful including Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and possibly ketamine treatments.
Telepsychiatry For Anxiety
During the pandemic, telepsychiatry became one of the easiest and safest ways for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to treat patients. While we are back to meeting face-to-face, many patients have come to prefer using a virtual psychiatrist over in-person meetings.
Many people feel comfortable meeting virtually and it can be more convenient. After all, meeting online allows us to meet from anywhere you have an internet connection. You also don’t have to fight your way through traffic, which can be very stressful, and you save time because no commute is necessary. Telepsychiatry also allows you to choose a psychiatrist that truly meets your needs rather than simply settling for that “psychiatrist near me.”
Contact Dr. Jesalva Today
If you are suffering symptoms of anxiety, don’t wait another day before contacting a psychiatrist for anxiety. I can meet with patients virtually or in person and have been successfully treating patients with anxiety, depression, PTSD and other mental health conditions for many years. There is always hope, and we can find a treatment plan that truly reduces your anxiety and improves your life.
Psychiatrists can treat a wide range of psychological conditions, and while you might think more of psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, anxiety or depression, many psychiatrists also can treat addiction. An addiction psychiatrist is a medical doctor that specializes in helping patients with substance use disorders.
Is Addiction A Disease
There’s a lot of debate about this, and I think it’s important to truly dive in and understand why most medical organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, classify substance use disorders as a disease.
Let’s compare substance use disorders with another medical disorder – diabetes. While lifestyle choices can be reasons why a person develops diabetes, there are other factors that come into play including genetics, biology, psychology and even environmental factors.
We can look at two people with virtually identical lifestyles and body types and see one develop diabetes and another person never develop this disease so it’s not all about diet and exercise, although those certainly can be an issue. Additionally, while dietary choices might contribute to diabetes, those choices don’t take away the fact that diabetes is a disease.
When it comes to substance use, many people are able to drink alcohol or use drugs such as marijuana without ever becoming addicted to these substances. In many cases, a person’s biology, genetics and psychology all contribute to both using drugs or alcohol and becoming addicted to these substances.
It’s also important to keep in mind that substance use actually changes our brains. While we might make that initial choice to use a drug, if we continue using drugs or alcohol, this can alter the brain and once that occurs, a person has far less control of their ability to stop drinking or using drugs.
For those suffering from addiction, it’s important to understand that addiction is a disease and a chronic disease just like diabetes or asthma. And just as with those medical conditions, we can treat the disease and help a person live a healthier life. As an addiction psychiatrist, I have seen firsthand that substance use disorders can be treated and recovery can be successful.
How An Addiction Psychiatrist Can Help
While there are many therapists, counselors and psychologists in the field of addiction counseling, an addiction psychiatrist is uniquely qualified to help with addiction treatment, especially during the initial phases of treatment.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors as well as mental health professionals, and while they typically don’t provide talk therapy or behavioral therapy, they can provide you with a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan as well as diving into your medical history and psychological history to determine all of the issues you might be facing. It is important to identify any and all mental health disorders and medical issues before creating a treatment plan.
While a general psychiatrist certainly can be helpful, if you are suffering from substance abuse, it can be wise to select a psychiatrist that specializes in addiction psychiatry. Addiction psychiatrists treat more than substance use disorders, but they have additional training and keep up with the latest developments in addiction treatment.
Of course, many of their patients will have co-occurring disorders and an addiction psychiatrist can help with other mental health issues. For instance, a patient might have a dual diagnosis of depression as well as substance abuse or perhaps bipolar disorder or chronic pain.
In order for addiction treatment to be successful, we must address all of the issues and not just substance abuse. This is why I spend so much time on reaching a thorough diagnosis because it’s not just about helping someone to stop using drugs and alcohol. It’s getting to the root of all of the problems and finding ways to address each issue.
As a patient, it is also highly recommended that you also seek the services of a therapist or psychologist. A psychiatrist can provide you with a diagnosis and prescribe medications for medication-assisted addiction treatment, but it’s also crucial to utilize the power of talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. This combination approach tends to yield the greatest rates of success.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment
For some types of substances, there are medications that can help people maintain long-term sobriety. These medications do not cure addiction, but they can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce the craving for drugs or alcohol.
It might seem counterintuitive to use medications to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, but it’s important to remember that medications are used to treat many common diseases and the medications used to treat addiction have seen very high rates of success.
For instance, medications such as naltrexone and methadone have been shown to help alleviate cravings for people addicted to opioids. Naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram all have been used to help patients addicted to alcohol. Again, these aren’t cures, but they reduce the need for substance use and allow people to live better, more successful lives.
What About Telepsychiatry?
As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I see patients throughout the Los Angeles area, as well as in southern Ventura County. If you live outside that area, I can provide you with the services of a virtual psychiatrist.
Telepsychiatry allows you the freedom to select an addiction psychiatrist that truly fits your needs, rather than simply trying to find a local psychiatrist, which might put limits on your search. Additionally, many people prefer meeting with a doctor from the comfort of their homes and you can save time and avoid the hassle of dealing with traffic.
Call Me Today!
Even if you’ve tried multiple times to stop using drugs or alcohol, there truly is hope for a long-term recovery. Addiction is treatable, and I can help. If you need an experienced addiction psychiatrist, please contact my office today and let’s get you on a path toward sobriety and a happier, healthier life.
Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.