Millions of Americans suffer from some level of seasonal depression, and for some, this can be quite serious. As an online psychiatrist, I have some tips to help you fight the seasonal blues and I can help you better understand this condition.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Vs. The “Winter Blues”
Many people suffer from what we call the wintertime blues, but some people actually suffer from a mental health disorder known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The American Psychiatric Association refers to this disorder officially as Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern.
The main difference between the winter blues and SAD is that the latter causes a level of depression that interferes with daily life activities. People with SAD also often experience weight gain as well as a general loss of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed.
Because the majority of people diagnosed with SAD live relatively far from the equator, it is believed that for those with SAD, the shorter hours of daylight may cause chemical imbalances in the brain.
Often, the symptoms begin around the time we adjust our clocks for daylight saving time, as this can disrupt one’s circadian rhythm. This “rhythm” is basically our body’s internal clock and it’s what helps our bodies manage our sleep/wake cycles as well as when to eat and even adjusts our body’s temperature to some extent.
Treatments For SAD
If seasonal depression is interfering with your daily activities or you experience extreme feelings of loneliness or despair and perhaps even suicidal thoughts, you should speak with a mental health professional as soon as possible.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 988 to reach the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. There is always someone available to help at any hour of the day or night.
In general, for people with SAD, we try to use a combination of therapies including Bright Light Therapy (BLT), talk therapy and, often, antidepressant medication. Light therapy entails using a special box to provide you with extra light for a set period of time during the day and it has been shown to be very effective for people suffering from SAD.
It is important to note that while there are many light boxes available for purchase, you should consult with your online psychiatrist to ensure that you buy the best possible box and that you use it correctly.
Additionally, light box therapy may not be suitable for people with bipolar disorder. If you have glaucoma, cataracts or retinopathy, you should contact your ophthalmologist to discuss whether or not light therapy is the best option.
Talk therapy also has been shown to be helpful for people with SAD as well as all types of depression. This provides a good outlet for you to express your emotions and perhaps provides you with strategies to help you boost your mood.
Medication also can be an effective treatment option. As a virtual psychiatrist, I can prescribe antidepressants and while these can help, it is best to also include light therapy and talk therapy as this three-part approach tends to provide us with the best results.
Tips For Fighting The Winter Blues
SAD may be more severe than the wintertime blues, but these “blues” also can make a big (and negative) impact on our daily lives during the winter months. Sometimes, we experience the blues because of the lack of daylight hours and sometimes people tend to experience sadness around the holidays and at the start of the new year. Here are a few tips that can help you improve your mood.
1. Head Outside
In some parts of the world, winter daylight hours are scarce, but getting outside for any portion of the day can be beneficial. When it’s time for your lunch break, try to get outside and walk around for a while as the combination of sunlight and exercise can be beneficial.
2. Move Your Desk
If you work from home or have any flexibility in your workspace, try to move your desk to a sunny spot. Natural light as well as a view of the outdoors can help improve your mood.
3. Improve Your Diet
The holiday season typically brings with it a plethora of unhealthy treats and while munching on a cookie or two is probably fine, try to stick with a healthy diet and add some foods rich in Vitamin D.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to SAD as well as the winter blues, so consider taking a vitamin D supplement (such as cod liver oil) or adding foods such as salmon, sardines, tuna, egg yolks and mushrooms to your diet. Some milk products and orange juice are fortified with this vitamin and that also can be a good option.
4. Stay Social
By social, I definitely do not mean heading onto social media and scrolling through pictures of people laughing and cavorting their way through the holidays. In fact, I find it’s always best to keep in mind that people typically only showcase positive images on their social media, and this is not always the true reality that your social media “friends” are living.
However, if you are invited to holiday events, it can be a good idea to accept the invitations. Being around people can boost your mood, and if you have a small social circle, consider volunteering at a local food bank or a homeless shelter during this time of the year. You will meet other volunteers and have the opportunity to help others which definitely can improve your mood and your outlook in general.
5. Improve Your Home’s Ambiance
If you are feeling low, cheer yourself up with a bouquet of flowers or perhaps buy a new plant. Adding a bit of color or greenery to your home can improve your mood. Then set your table, light some candles and enjoy a nice meal.
Adding string lights or perhaps some cheerful posters or artwork or even family photos to your space also can create a more welcoming, happier environment. Often when we feel depressed, we put off cleaning tasks, however, straightening up your home, making your bed and keeping things clean can help improve your mood so do your best to keep your home tidy and welcoming. That can be easier said than done, but even just clearing off one area of your home or bedroom, can help you feel a sense of accomplishment.
6. Try Something New
There’s nothing like a new hobby to take our minds off our troubles. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play guitar or paint, take some lessons. Learn how to knit, practice a new language, set a reading goal or take a cooking class at your local community center.
7. Talk To A Therapist
Whether you have SAD or the winter blues, talking to a professional is always a good idea. Therapists and psychologists can provide you with a helpful, listening ear and with coping strategies to get you through the winter season.
In-Person Visits Vs. Telepsychiatry
If you do need to work with a psychiatrist, these days we have the option of meeting in person or meeting virtually. Meeting with an online psychiatrist can be a good option for many reasons.
Telepsychiatry allows you to find the best board-certified psychiatrists rather than simply relying on a psychiatrist “near me.” While in-person visits are the best option for some patients, many of my patients love not having to wrangle through L.A. traffic to head into their doctor’s office. Using a virtual psychiatrist can save you time, and reduces stress and you can meet with me from just about anywhere where there is an internet connection.
As a virtual psychiatrist, I can provide the same level of care as I can with face-to-face visits, and we use a secure online platform for all of our psychiatry sessions. I can diagnose and develop a treatment plan for many mental illness, including anxiety and depression, bipolar disorder, SAD and many other issues.
Many of my patients have co-occurring disorders, such as bipolar disorder and depression or perhaps ADHD and anxiety or an eating disorder. As a medical doctor and mental health professional, my goal is to provide you with a complete diagnosis that addresses all of your mental health needs, including providing you with prescriptions for any necessary medications.
Additionally, you may need the services of a psychologist or a licensed therapist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, and a psychiatrist prescribes medications and can provide a solid diagnosis and treatment plan, but psychiatry sessions don’t typically include talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or other types of therapy which is why you also need to find other mental health professionals to provide you with complete care.
Book An Appointment Today
If you need a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks or a psychiatrist in Westlake Village, my offices are convenient for in-person visits. However, if you prefer telepsychiatry, I do offer virtual psychiatrist services for patients throughout California and I can provide treatment for depression, anxiety, ADHD, addiction and more.
For people with mental health conditions, telepsychiatry can be an excellent option to consider. These days many healthcare services, including psychiatric care, are handled virtually and there are many advantages to opting for a virtual psychiatrist rather than receiving care in person.
What Are The Advantages of Telepsychiatry
There are several advantages to telepsychiatry, and for patients, the main advantages include the convenience factor and the ability to choose the best possible psychiatrist for their needs and not simply rely on finding “psychiatry near me.”
Many studies have shown that telepsychiatry does not reduce the accuracy of diagnosis nor the quality of care of psychiatric services. We also use a secure platform for each session, so patient privacy and confidentiality are protected.
Telepsychiatry also has been approved by the American Psychiatric Association and many of my patients prefer it to traditional face-to-face meetings. After all, as a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I know only too well how stressful it can be navigating L.A. traffic.
Telepsychiatry allows us to meet without forcing patients to drive to a mental health center or medical center or take extra time out of their day for travel. With telepsychiatry, we typically see reduced wait times for health services, which is another advantage.
Are There Disadvantages?
Some patients do respond better in a face-to-face setting, so while telepsychiatry services were the norm during the pandemic, this was probably not the best option for these patients. Many patients love the convenience, but for those that prefer meeting in person, it might be wise to find a local psychiatrist instead.
Some treatments also cannot be accessed virtually, such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) or ketamine treatments. EMDR can be an excellent option for patients with PTSD, and ketamine can be an option for patients with treatment-resistant depression, but they do need to be provided in a medical office setting.
What Can Be Treated Via Telepsychiatry?
Many mental health issues can be treated with telepsychiatry services. For instance, I offer services as an ADHD psychiatrist, depression psychiatrist, anxiety psychiatrist and bipolar disorder psychiatrist. I also treat patients for alcoholism and drug addiction.
Behavioral health care is truly just as important as taking care of your physical health. Mental illness can take a huge toll on your happiness and enjoyment of life, and, too often, people resist getting mental health services.
Psychiatric disorders are not a weakness. They are biological diseases that often are treatable. Seeking psychiatric treatment is no different than heading to your primary care doctor to deal with issues such as strep throat or asthma or heart disease. Whether you are suffering from one or more mental health disorders, I strongly urge you to seek psychiatric care and move toward a happier, healthier life.
Whether you opt for virtual psychiatry or in-person services, the best advice I can give is to find a doctor that provides you with a thorough diagnosis that addresses all of a patient’s mental and physical issues.
For instance, if you are suffering from addiction and chronic pain, both of these issues need to be addressed in order for treatment to be as successful as possible. Likewise, if you suffer from anxiety and an eating disorder, a doctor shouldn’t just focus on anxiety and ignore the eating disorder. Co-occurring disorders are extremely common, and it’s crucial to find ways to treat every issue you are facing.
Telepsychiatry Vs. Telepsychology
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and, as such, these doctors are the only mental health professionals able to write prescriptions for psychiatric medications. Additionally, as a medical doctor, a psychiatrist will approach each patient from both a physical and mental health perspective.
Often, a psychiatrist will want a patient to undergo certain tests beyond diagnostic testing. For instance, we might want to check your blood for any indicators of health issues or perhaps even consider scheduling an MRI or EEG to study a patient’s neurological health. In some cases, physical ailments can be causing mental health issues or contribute to these issues. If we can alleviate physical health issues, this can decrease or eliminate symptoms of mental health issues.
Additionally, it is important that you provide your psychiatrist (or any doctor) with a complete list of the drugs and supplements you take, including recreational drugs such as marijuana, MDMA, etc. Sometimes drug interactions also cause or exacerbate mental health issues.
Keep in mind, we are not here to judge you, we are here to help, so you must be completely honest about all substances that you take, even vitamins and other health supplements so that we can provide the best possible mental health care.
While a psychologist cannot provide you with prescriptions for medication or evaluate your physical health, these professionals serve as a crucial part of any successful treatment plan, and they also can diagnose mental health disorders. Psychiatrists typically focus only on diagnosis and treatment but don’t actually provide talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or other types of non-medication-related therapies.
In many cases, medication can help patients, but the most successful treatment plans also incorporate different types of therapy. Talking to a psychologist or therapist can be hugely beneficial, and, often more beneficial than simply relying on medication management.
Therapy can provide you with an outlet for your emotions as well as providing you with helpful strategies to manage your day-to-day life. Even those without mental health disorders can benefit from therapy and there are many therapists and psychologists out there offering virtual services these days.
Contact Dr. Jesalva Today!
If you are suffering from mental health issues, I can provide you with quality telepsychiatry services. If you prefer to find “psychiatry near me,” my offices are located in Thousand Oaks, and I can serve patients face-to-face throughout the Los Angeles metro area.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is often considered a disorder of childhood, but the symptoms of this disorder can stay with you into your adult years. Additionally, some people aren’t even diagnosed with ADHD until adulthood. If you are struggling with symptoms of ADHD, seeking help from an adult ADHD psychiatrist can be a good step to take.
What Is ADHD
As the name of this disorder suggests, the common issues with ADHD include both inattention and hyperactivity, as well as impulsivity. Of course, most children to some extent or another do have short attention spans and tend to display elements of hyperactivity and impulsivity at times.
When a person has ADHD, however, these issues are chronic and interfere with daily life. For children, it can interfere with learning and disrupt relationships with peers and family members. For adults, we usually see a lessening of hyperactivity, but problems with inattention and impulsive behavior often persist.
With adults, typical symptoms of ADHD include:
Not all people with ADHD, adult or otherwise, will experience all of these symptoms. For instance, with females, ADHD symptoms often tend to present more as inattention rather than hyperactivity and impulsiveness. In some cases, the examples of hyperactivity might include interrupting others and talking excessively, rather than acting out physically.
The perceived “mildness” of symptoms in females often results in these individuals being undiagnosed and receiving little support even though they need help as much as their male counterparts. At any rate, whether you are an adult or a child, ADHD can make life difficult to navigate, and it’s wise to seek help from a professional.
How An Adult ADHD Psychiatrist Can Help
An adult ADHD psychiatrist can help with the disorder, both with diagnosis and medication management, if needed. Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists and therapists, are medical doctors. Their main focus is on diagnosis and the creation of the treatment plan.
Too often, an ADHD psychiatrist won’t provide patients with a thorough enough diagnosis. Many people with ADHD have co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression or even bipolar disorder. This is why it is important to find a psychiatrist that truly focuses on the diagnostic process.
A psychiatrist must spend enough time evaluating a patient to ensure that all mental health and physical health issues are addressed. In some cases, there could be underlying physical conditions or certain medications or substances that are causing ADHD symptoms or the symptoms could be caused by another mental health disorder.
Treatment plans vary on the severity of symptoms and sometimes include the use of medication. Medication can be a very beneficial tool for treating ADHD, but it only serves as one component of a treatment plan. Behavioral therapy and counseling also can be very beneficial, and I typically recommend that my patients seek out the services of a psychologist or therapist rather than simply using medication alone with no other mechanism of support.
How Psychologists & Therapists Can Help
While psychologists and therapists cannot prescribe medication, they can provide other types of treatment options. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, you can learn how to improve your time management skills and become more organized and how to create a daily schedule that can make life easier and less stressful. This type of therapy also teaches you how to respond to stressful or difficult situations.
Many people with ADHD also benefit from talk therapy. ADHD can take a toll on your self-esteem and can inhibit your ability to build strong relationships with others. Talk therapy can help you work through these issues and provide you with strategies to improve your communication and listening skills.
Sometimes with adults, couples therapy can be helpful, providing each partner with a safe space to discuss their concerns and emotions as well as gain a deeper understanding of each other.
Meditation & ADHD
While behavioral therapy and medication have long been helpful tools for those diagnosed with ADHD, studies have shown that daily meditation can help alleviate symptoms and improve focus and concentration. Meditation also can improve your mood and reduce your stress levels.
When it comes to ADHD, meditation is part of a treatment known as mindfulness-based intervention or MBI. In addition to meditation, a person with ADHD could consider taking yoga or tai chi classes and learning breathing exercises. Often meditation and breathing will be taught during a yoga or tai chi class.
When To Seek Help
Often, adults with symptoms of ADHD are reluctant to seek treatment. But whether you were diagnosed as a child or you are an adult that has not yet been diagnosed, seeking help can be the best way to improve your quality of life.
If symptoms of ADHD are interfering with your ability to lead a fulfilling, successful life, it’s time to seek treatment. Finding the best psychiatrist for your needs can be tricky, but these days with telepsychiatry it’s easier than ever before to find a doctor with whom you feel comfortable.
Many people simply search for a “psychiatrist near me,” and while I serve as a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks and a psychiatrist in Westlake Village, I also provide services as a virtual psychiatrist.
Telepsychiatry can be an excellent option for many patients. Not only does it allow you to select a psychiatrist that truly meets your needs, but it’s also much more convenient. You can meet in the comfort of your home and avoid issues such as traffic or taking off extra time from work or other commitments to drive to and from appointments.
Contact My Office Today
Whether you want to meet in person and need an adult ADHD psychiatrist in Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks or prefer to meet virtually, I am here to help. In addition to treating patients with ADHD, I also offer services as an anxiety psychiatrist, bipolar psychiatrist as well as offering treatment for depression and even substance abuse. Give me a call and let’s set up an appointment and get you on the path to a happier, healthier life.
These days, it can be hard for people to connect, and while social media offers a means of connection, too often social media use is harmful rather than helpful. As a local psychiatrist, I have seen a clear link between depression and anxiety and social media usage, and many studies also support this link.
To be fair, everything on social media is not dangerous or even undesirable. Some of the content can be fun, informative and even encourage people to expand their ideas and try new activities. Social media also provides us with an easy way to engage with friends and family that we may not get to see often. Additionally, we might find others who are dealing with similar issues as ourselves, and this can help us feel less alone in the world.
The problem arises when we begin to overuse social media or when we use social media in place of forming real connections with human beings. Social media also can become addictive, and this isn’t just an issue with children or teens. Older adults can become just as addicted to social media, and the results can be equally toxic.
How Does Social Media Affect Our Mental Health?
Multiple studies show that heavy social media users suffer from far greater rates of depression and anxiety than those who rarely use social media. Many of these studies also show that levels of depression and anxiety intensified after heavy social media use.
There could be many reasons for this increase in depression symptoms and greater anxiety. For instance, the more you use social media the more likely you are to be barraged by upsetting news stories and images, which can cause one to feel more anxious or hopeless.
Social media content often showcases glamourous or seemingly “perfect” lives where people are always good-looking, wealthy and full of energy. These people are always on the go, having amazing adventures or they have happy, seemingly idyllic lives.
Anyone can present a “perfect” image online, but the reality is that all of us have problems and challenges. What you see online is rarely a fair representation of someone’s actual life, but little snippets that they choose to show. Social media also often glamorizes serious issues such as drug and alcohol use or mental disorders such as eating disorders.
It can be especially difficult for younger people to separate this fiction from fact. Pre-teens and teens are not complete in their emotional or physical development, and as such, their brains are developed enough to handle many aspects of social media.
For children and young adults, the cyberworld also is a huge source of bullying and this can have an enormous impact on mental health. People on social media basically say whatever they want, and often the comments are hurtful. This can have a huge impact on a younger person’s self-esteem. Likewise, people often feel rejected if their social media content attracts little attention.
Social Media “Advice”
As an experienced anxiety psychiatrist and depression psychiatrist, as well as treating ADHD and bipolar disorder, I find one of the most disturbing aspects of social media, the barrage of so-called medical and mental health experts that are happy to diagnose your mental disorders or provide you with advice on how to treat whatever disorder you might have.
Rarely, is this advice sound and rarely is the advice given by trained professionals. I cannot stress enough that medical advice on social media is rarely accurate. Again, people can say just about anything on social media without providing any evidence.
I know that there is content out there that can help destigmatize mental illness, and this can be helpful, but, in general, I strongly urge people from following advice from so-called experts on Facebook, Tik Tok and other social media sites. Rarely, is it helpful, and it’s often inaccurate and dangerous.
How Much Social Media Is Too Much?
As a local psychiatrist that specializes in treatment for anxiety and depression, I see many patients that spend several hours a day on various social media sites. Typically, I recommend taking a complete break from social media once in a while and limiting your time on social media sites to 30 minutes or less per day. For some people, even this amount might be too much.
I don’t recommend starting off your day with a trip to your favorite social media sites. It’s best to enjoy a morning cup of tea, a brisk walk around the block or perhaps enjoy a crossword puzzle rather than head online to see what others are doing or what atrocities the world has unleased that day.
While we cannot turn our back on the world, we can start each day with practices that provide us with a more positive mindset. We are better able to tackle our day-to-day routine if we start off each day in the healthiest way possible.
It also can be wise to shut off your phone or electronic devices entirely in the evenings and switch over to more relaxing activities, such as taking a bath, listening to soft music or perhaps just chatting with a loved one. Spend a few minutes writing down thoughts in a journal or enjoy a quiet activity such as a game of chess or reading a book.
Take A Break & Seek Support
If you are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, my first bit of advice is to take a social media break and, instead, contact an experienced professional for help. Depression and anxiety are biological diseases that are treatable, and a trained local psychiatrist can help.
I recommend seeking out psychiatric care initially because psychiatrists are able to look at the whole patient from both a medical and mental health perspective. As medical doctors, we can assess your overall health and determine if there are any physical issues that might be contributing to your anxiety or depression. We also are the only professionals that can provide you with medication should that be a necessary component of your mental health treatment.
Psychiatrists typically do not provide actual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and talk therapy. We provide a thorough diagnosis and create a treatment plan that addresses your anxiety and depression as well as any co-occurring disorders and this may or may not include medication management.
Psychologists and therapists are licensed mental health professionals that can provide you with these services, and they can be just as beneficial as medication because they provide you with coping mechanisms and also provide you with an outlet to discuss your feelings in a safe, supportive space.
In Lieu of Social Media . . .
It can be tough for people with depression to get out in the world and be active, which is one reason social media is often heavily used by people suffering from depression. Still, there are better activities that have been shown to alleviate depression. So shut off your device and consider the following:
Exercise – Just about any type of exercise can be beneficial. Exercise releases endorphins and these help to boost our mood. Additionally, just heading outdoors can boost our mood. Even if you just make it once around the block, this can be beneficial. Yoga and breathing exercises also can be a great way to reduce depression symptoms, as well as anxiety.
Structure – Creating a daily plan can help us stay on task, but it also can provide a sense of security. This doesn’t have to be complicated routine that includes huge, daunting tasks. Just start out simple with tasks such as making your bed, eating a healthy breakfast, taking the dog for a walk and paying the bills.
Clean The House – For people with depression, it is very easy for them to avoid housecleaning and organizing tasks, which of course, just makes the depression worse. However, physical cleaning tasks actually get the heart pumping which can boost your mood.
Even just cleaning up one single room of your house can boost your mood because you did something cardiovascular and accomplished something at the same time. Just tackle one space such as a single bathroom or just wash the dirty dishes and clean off counters. Even just emptying the trash can be a goal. Believe it or not, this can make you feel better.
Make Connections – This can be so difficult for people with anxiety and depression, I know. People need people and social media interactions are not a complete substitute for real interaction with a live person. Even if you can’t meet in person, schedule a zoom call even if it’s just for a quick chat and cup of coffee.
Volunteer – Helping others can make you feel better, and volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated. Every community has volunteer opportunities from helping out at a pet recue, a local food bank or perhaps taking part in a beach cleanup event. You can meet other people and take your mind off of your problems, even if only for a few hours.
Eat A Healthy Diet – A healthy varied diet can improve our mental health as well as our physical health. While it can be difficult for people with depression to shop for food and cook, try to limit processed foods and excess sugar.
Some studies suggest that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can boost your mental health. Foods rich in selenium also might be beneficial, as some studies have shown that people with depression tend to have lower selenium levels.
Keep in mind, while the above tips aren’t cures for depression, they can alleviate symptoms and certainly provide more help than time spent on social media. The best treatment plans incorporate these strategies as well as therapy and often medication.
Get Help Today!
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, I encourage you to seek mental health care because treatment can be successful, and you deserve a happier, healthier life. As local psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I offer in-person visits for patients throughout Los Angeles, but I also provide telepsychiatry services for patients in any location. Using a virtual psychiatrist can be an easy way to find a psychiatrist that best suits your needs.
If you are suffering from a mental illness and are searching for a psychiatrist in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks or another nearby city, I can help. Whether you need help with bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD or other mental illnesses, I encourage you to give me a call and set up a consultation.
Too often, people feel shame about mental illness and believe that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness. However, psychiatric disorders are not a weakness, they are simply biological diseases that often are treatable.
Seeking professional help for mental disorders is no different than seeking treatment for any other type of illness. Would you feel ashamed for seeking treatment for an ear infection or asthma or appendicitis? Of course not.
You should feel no hesitation about seeking treatment for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance abuse or any other mental illness. Everyone deserves a chance to live a happy, healthy life and seeking treatment can lead you out of the darkness of mental illness and toward a much brighter future. Here’s a quick look at some of the disorders I treat.
While both terms were used for many years, ADHD is now the preferred term for this type of brain disorder, which occurs both in children and adults. ADHD has a wide range of symptoms, ranging from an inability to focus to hyperactivity and impulsivity. An ADHD psychiatrist can provide you with a diagnosis and prescribe medication if necessary as well as recommend other treatment options and strategies to help make life easier.
If you need addiction treatment, either for drugs or alcohol, I can help. Addiction is a disease that cannot be cured but can be managed successfully. A person with addiction will need a plan to help them maintain sobriety and to help deal with the side effects of quitting alcohol or drugs, which can include mood shifts, depression, anxiety and stress. While this sounds daunting, with proper support and treatment, all of this can be managed and long term.
Everyone has worries and stress from time to time, but for people with anxiety, this is a chronic, day-to-day battle that often interferes with work, home life and socialization. People with anxiety often feel constantly on edge and anxiety can cause fatigue, mood changes, sleep issues and even panic attacks. Anxiety is not a sign of weakness; it’s a biological disorder and an anxiety psychiatrist can help you manage and reduce symptoms of anxiety.
Many people with bipolar disorder mistakenly believe that treatment cannot be effective in managing the many symptoms of this disease, but that is simply untrue. It can take time to find the ideal treatment for each patient, but the mania, depression and other symptoms can be treated, and an experienced bipolar disorder psychiatrist can help.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 17 million American adults suffer from major depression. Depression can make life extremely difficult and many people with major depression or chronic depression attempt suicide. (If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 988 to reach the national Suicide & Crisis Hotline. Help is available 24/7)
Many of my patients have sought the services of a depression psychiatrist in the past and found that treatment was unsuccessful. However, previous treatment options simply might not have been a good fit for your needs. There are many new treatments available, and we likely can find an option that helps reduce or even eliminate your symptoms.
Co-Occurring Disorders & Psychiatric Consultations
In many cases, my patients will suffer from more than one mental disorder or perhaps a combination of physical disorders and mental health disorders. For any type of treatment to be successful, diagnosing and treating all co-occurring disorders is crucial.
For instance, if a patient has chronic pain and addiction, this pain likely led to the addiction in the first place. If a person has bipolar disorder and addiction, it’s also likely that the bipolar disorder led the patient to self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol. People with an eating disorder might also suffer from depression or anxiety, etc. If we don’t treat all of these issues, then treatment is likely to be less successful.
Often, psychiatrists don’t take the time necessary to create a comprehensive diagnosis. They simply focus on one disorder and miss other issues that also are affecting a patient’s wellbeing. I will provide you with a thorough diagnosis that takes into account all of your symptoms, both mental and physical.
The diagnostic process will include several sessions and also might include some physical tests, including bloodwork and other diagnostic tools. For instance, we may find that a physical condition or perhaps even a medication you currently are taking is causing some of your symptoms.
I believe that a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach is the best option for all of my patients and my treatment framework addresses four dimensions – biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual. There is nothing more fulfilling to me than providing care and helping my patients experience happier and healthier lives.
There are many types of mental health professionals, including therapists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. While all three might provide a diagnosis, only a psychiatrist can prescribe medication and psychiatrists also attended medical school and are medical doctors with medical degrees.
Therapists and psychologists provide other treatment options, such as talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. Typically, psychiatrists provide diagnosis and suggest treatment options but do not provide the actual therapy beyond prescribing medications. Not all treatment plans will include medication, but even if medication, I highly recommend using additional therapies, such as behavioral therapies as a combination approach generally is the most successful.
There are many medication-assisted treatment options and medication can be a highly effective way to reduce or eliminate symptoms of a mental illness. Keep in mind, that it can take weeks or months to find the best medication and the best dosage to help reduce or eliminate your symptoms.
We also can consider alternative treatments, if traditional medications don’t seem to work or you perhaps want to try a different approach. For instance, ketamine can be an option for patients with treatment-resistant depression and possibly for those with severe anxiety disorders. While this is a type of medication-assisted treatment, it typically only involves short-term, controlled use in a doctor’s office.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is another option for treatment-resistant depression. This is a treatment that uses an electromagnetic pulse to the nerve cells in the part of your brain that controls mood. For people with depression, this area of the brain often suffers from decreased activity and stimulating the nerve cells may help reduce depression symptoms.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is another alternative treatment, typically used for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In some cases, EMDR may be used to treat some types of anxiety and panic disorders, as well.
In-Person Services & Telepsychiatry
While I am conveniently located for those needing a psychiatrist in Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and even the greater Los Angeles area, I do also work as a virtual psychiatrist. This can be a good option for patients outside of my treatment area or for those who simply love the convenience of meeting virtually rather than in person. Whether you want to meet in person or online, please don’t wait another day to call and schedule a consultation so that we can set you on a path toward a happier life.
Millions of Americans suffer from some type of mental health disorder, and as an experienced psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I know that it’s all too common for people to neglect their mental health. While battling psychiatric disorders might seem hopeless, there truly is hope and I have a few basic mental health care tips that can help.
Keep in mind, that these tips are not cures, they are simply a few bits of advice that can make life a bit easier for those with depression and anxiety or those prone to mood swings due to issues such as bipolar disorder.
For any type of mental health issue, seeking treatment is essential. Just as you would go to a doctor for a broken bone or to the dentist to fill a cavity, seeking professional help is just as important for mental health issues, but the following self-care tips can be beneficial to follow.
1. Divert Your Attention
Feeling panicked or overwhelmed? Consumed with thoughts you can’t seem to control? Deep breathing exercises and mediation can help, but sometimes, simply engaging in a simple task can help reduce the anxiety and lower your stress levels.
For instance, if you are worried about an upcoming event rather than sitting and thinking about it or pacing back and forth in anxiety, get up and do something menial. Clean your bathroom, mop the floor, clean out the fridge, organize your closet or take the dog for a walk. Even petting a dog or cat for a few minutes has been shown to boost our mood, and our furry companions also benefit from this activity.
These tasks don’t require perfect concentration, but they get you moving and get your blood flowing. Exercise boosts serotonin and endorphin production and these hormones can boost your mood and can help you feel calmer and more in control.
The next time you feel overwhelmed, take five minutes and walk around the block, do some jumping jacks, water your plants, or wash some windows. Get your blood pumping and focus on something else. It doesn’t make problems disappear, but it can help give you a break from your anxiety and worry.
2. Dismiss The Social Media “Experts”
Whether it’s on Tik Tok, Facebook, YouTube or some other social media platform, there are hundreds of mental health “experts” out there that provide advice about various mental health issues. Few (if any) are legitimate doctors, but they often promise cures or treatment options with no actual scientific evidence to back up their claims.
It is highly recommended that you filter out this noise and perhaps even taking a nice long break from social media in general. In fact, sometimes, it’s a great idea to skip watching the news in general. While we never want to forget about what’s going on in the world, if you are having a particularly tough time with anxiety, depression, feelings of anger, etc., it can be wise to avoid spending a significant portion of your day scanning the headlines.
3. Small Victories Are Victories
For many people who suffer from mental illnesses, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and to feel as though you aren’t accomplishing enough. You may feel as though everyone in the world accomplishes more than you do on a given day. But, the truth is, everyone is unique and even those people that seem capable to handle any task or crisis 24/7 have problems that you cannot see.
Life is not a competition, it’s a journey and sometimes the road is pretty rough. Create a to-do list for your day and week to keep you focused but keep those tasks as manageable as possible. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or handle 500 tasks in a day.
Your to-do list shouldn’t just include chores, but some relaxing activities as well. For instance, maybe you will plan to read for 20 minutes or arrange a bouquet of flowers or maybe sketch or draw.
At the end of each day, grab a gratitude journal and write down three things that you accomplished that day as well as three items that make you feel grateful. For instance, maybe you paid the bills on time, cooked a nice dinner, and walked the dog. Perhaps you feel grateful for nice weather, hearing a favorite song or having a friend touch base via phone or text.
4. Elevate Your Diet
They say you are what you eat, and there’s some truth to that. As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I am a medical doctor and as such, I focus on each patient’s physical health as well as their mental health. I know that a healthy varied diet can help your body work as efficiently as possible and can even help boost your mood and ability to focus and concentrate.
If you aren’t quite sure how to change your diet or which foods are the best fit for your specific health needs, consult with a dietician and start making some changes. It can even be fun! Try out new recipes and new types of cuisine, and maybe even enroll in a healthy cooking class at your local community center or community college.
In many cases, learning something new (such as gaining new cooking skills) can help you feel better about life in general. So, in addition to learning about nutrition and improving your culinary game, consider adding a few brand-new activities to your life. Take up a new hobby or join a social group, such as a bowling league or adult softball league and try something new.
5. Create A Nighttime Routine
For many people with a mental illness, nighttime can be anything but restful, which is why it’s so important to create a calming routine that transitions you from the day into a period of restful sleep.
One routine might include turning off the TV and electronic devices and enjoying a warm bath. It can be soothing to add Epsom salt occasionally, as this may help alleviate some anxiety or reduce stress. Listen to some soothing music, light an aromatherapy candle and enjoy a cup of chamomile tea.
For some, using a white noise maker or an app with soothing sounds, such as falling rain, can help lull you to sleep after your bath. You also might use those few minutes before bedtime to make notes in your gratitude journal or read some inspiring quotes to settle your mind.
Seeking Treatment: In-Person & Telepsychiatry
While these tips can make life a bit more manageable, finding a psychiatrist and a therapist is an important step that you need to take. Even if you’ve worked with therapists or doctors in the past with little success, I encourage you to continue searching for doctors and professionals that are the best fit for you.
As a psychiatrist specializing in bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and ADHD, I find that many doctors simply don’t spend enough time on their initial assessment and tend to miss co-occurring disorders. My goal is to treat the whole patient, not just one specific mental illness, and many of my patients have co-occurring disorders.
For instance, if you have bipolar disorder and ADHD, both of these issues need to be addressed to truly help a patient. If you have addiction, depression and chronic pain, we have to address the chronic pain and the depression, or the patient will likely fall back into using drugs and/or alcohol.
Once we reach a complete diagnosis and create a treatment plan, patients need to understand that treatment does take time. Even with medication-assisted treatment, it can take time to find the best medication and the best dosage. The key to success is having some patience and just hanging in there and working toward a better, happier life, which absolutely is attainable.
These days, many patients will seek the services of a virtual psychiatrist rather than scheduling in-person visits with a “psychiatrist near me,” as the internet search phrasing goes.
Telepsychiatry has many benefits. First, it allows you to find a psychiatrist that is the best fit for you and someone with whom you feel comfortable. Second, it can reduce anxiety because you can meet in the comfort of your own home, and, third, you won’t have to deal with driving or traffic, which can be anxiety-inducing all on their own.
Contact Dr. Jesalva Today!
Whether you need a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, a psychiatrist in Simi Valley or anywhere in the Greater Los Angeles area, I am here to help. I also offer telepsychiatry services, which enlarges my scope beyond Ventura and L.A. counties. I offer the services of an ADHD psychiatrist, anxiety psychiatrist, bipolar psychiatrist, depression psychiatrist and more for teens and adults. Give my office a call at any time to book an appointment and move toward 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.