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.
While all of us suffer from anxiety from time to time, for those with an anxiety disorder, these troubling thoughts and feelings greatly interfere with daily life and reduce the quality of life. The good news is that anxiety can be treated, and an anxiety psychiatrist can help. Here are a few important facts about anxiety and your treatment options.
1. Anxiety Disorders Are Common
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness about 20% of all adults in the United States and about 7% of children suffer from some type of anxiety disorder, and this is the most common mental health issue in our country. Millions of Americans suffer from anxiety, and many never seek treatment, which is a shame, because there are treatment options that can greatly reduce the symptoms of anxiety and help a person live a happier, healthier life.
2. Chronic Anxiety Is A Cause For Concern
We’ve all been a bit nervous before a big event or perhaps a school exam or perhaps the first time flying in an airplane. Sometimes anxiety is a normal response to a perilous situation, alerting us to danger. Sometimes we even feel a bit of anxiety when going through a positive change, such as taking on a new job position or moving into a new home.
For people with an anxiety disorder, however, these anxious feelings can be far more severe and not necessarily connected with a specific event. Some people with anxiety, feel anxious and worried throughout any given day, even if there is no specific event or reason behind the anxiety. Many people with an anxiety disorder might dread an event, but the anxiety doesn’t simply disappear once that event is over or they might avoid the event entirely because of the fear and anxiety.
People with an anxiety disorder often feel anxious for no particular reason, not associated with any upcoming event or task. Even if the anxiety is associated with a specific event, it tends to be a much higher level of anxiety than a person without an anxiety disorder would experience. Worries and fears are constant, or chronic, and affect daily life, interfering with work, school and personal relationships.
As an anxiety psychiatrist, I find that many people don’t realize that chronic anxiety is not just a normal way of life. However, if worries and fears are keeping you from enjoying life, an anxiety disorder could be the culprit, and there are resources available to help you manage this anxiety.
3. Symptoms Can Be Emotional & Physical
Anxiety disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms. For instance, you might find that you have difficulty breathing, a faster heartbeat and even hyperventilate. These are common symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Some people feel nervous or tense or have difficulty focusing or concentrating on daily tasks due to worry and anxiety.
Physical responses include sweating or having an upset stomach or even severe gastrointestinal distress. Most people with an anxiety disorder often feel tired and weak and have trouble sleeping. In many cases, people with anxiety will avoid circumstances that tend to trigger an anxious response, such as social events, flying, going to a medical doctor, etc.
4. There Are Several Types of Anxiety Disorders
The American Psychiatric Association recognizes several different types of anxiety disorders. Some individuals will be diagnosed with one of these disorders or perhaps more than one anxiety disorder, depending on their symptoms.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – With this disorder, a person tends to suffer from consistent feelings of worry and anxiety that interfere with daily life. They may suffer from both physical and emotional symptoms and often tire easily and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. These worries typically aren’t focused on one specific event, but rather worries and anxiety about many things, big and small.
Social Anxiety Disorder – Individuals with this type of anxiety disorder tend to focus most of their fears and worries on social situations. Those with social anxiety might avoid meeting new people, attending social and family events or even interacting with salespeople and cashiers. They might fear going to school or going to work, and even when they still manage to handle social interactions, they do so with a tremendous amount of anxiety.
Panic Disorder – People with a panic disorder will experience extreme feelings of fear and physical symptoms that include shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, trembling, feelings of numbness and often gastrointestinal pain or distress. These are intense episodes where a person feels an almost complete lack of control, and sometimes they literally occur completely unexpectedly and not necessarily related to a specific event. If you have experienced recurrent “panic attacks,” this may indicate that you have panic disorder.
Agoraphobia – When we think about agoraphobia, it’s not uncommon that you might think about a person that is afraid to leave their home. While this can be one manifestation of agoraphobia, in some cases, a person can leave their home, but they have very intense fear when leaving this perceived “safe” space.
People with agoraphobia typically are afraid of crowded places and often a person will develop agoraphobia after suffering from panic attacks in a public setting. Staying in their home, therefore, often seems like the safest option, but, of course, this severely limits their ability to live a fulfilling life.
Specific Phobias – When a person develops an intense fear about an object, animal or situation, this could be classified as a phobia. With agoraphobia, which is considered separately from specific phobias, the fear is usually very broad with intense fears surrounding public areas or crowded areas.
With a specific phobia, the fear is focused on one specific issue or object, such as an intense fear of heights or perhaps of dogs or spiders or even a fear of flowers or trees or choking. In general, the person is irrationally fearful about something with very little real danger.
For instance, of course, a person could choke on a piece of food, but a person with a true phobia of choking might only eat a liquid diet or avoid many types of foods. Often, a person with a phobia will become preoccupied with feelings of fear about this object, even when they are not presently confronted with the object.
Separation Anxiety – This tends to be more common in children but can occur in adults. This is a type of anxiety where a person feels an irrational level of fear when separated from a specific person or persons.
While it’s common for a person, especially a child, to experience some anxiety about separating from a parent, especially the first few times this occurs, a person with separation anxiety will experience extreme distress and fear. The person might feel consumed with worry about losing this person or even suffer from nightmares about becoming separated from the person.
5. OCD & PTSD Are In Their Own Category
While people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder do suffer from a great deal of worry, fear and anxiety, these two disorders are no longer classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as anxiety disorders.
Of course, just because these aren’t listed as anxiety disorders doesn’t mean that they don’t cause anxiety or that an anxiety psychiatrist cannot help. As a psychiatrist, we are trained to diagnose and provide treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders, including all types of anxiety disorders as well as OCD and PTSD.
6. Many People Have Co-Occurring Disorders
In many cases, a person will have an anxiety disorder as well as another type of mental health disorder. A person could suffer from a panic disorder and PTSD, for example, or perhaps an anxiety disorder and an eating disorder. It isn’t uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to also suffer from depression.
As an anxiety psychiatrist, my job is to take a deep dive and discover all of the issues a patient is facing and why. In some cases, an anxiety disorder could be exacerbated or caused by a physical condition or even a medication that a person is taking. In other cases, a past trauma might be a contributing factor.
A person also might develop an anxiety disorder because they also have a substance use disorder, such as drug addiction. Genetics often play a part, so if your parent or grandparent suffered from anxiety, you might be more likely to have an anxiety disorder.
Your psychiatrist should look at all factors that could cause an anxiety disorder including co-occurring disorders. Once we determine the correct diagnosis for a patient, we can design a treatment plan that addresses all of the issues the patient faces and not just the anxiety.
7. There Are Many Treatment Options
As an anxiety psychiatrist, my focus is on diagnosis and providing treatment options. In some cases, this might include medication, which I can prescribe. However, medication is not the only option we would consider.
Often, cognitive behavioral therapy is the best way to manage an anxiety disorder. This type of therapy helps you build strategies and skills to help you alleviate and deal with symptoms. Often learning these skills boosts a person’s confidence and allows them to handle fearful situations with greater ease.
In some cases, a combination of medication and therapy is recommended. There are several anti-anxiety medications and even some antidepressants that can help relieve feelings of anxiety and improve one’s quality of life. Typically, we do recommend that you also undergo psychotherapy, as well, so that you also have strategies to help you through stressful situations.
Often, if a person has co-occurring disorders, we will work with a variety of therapy types and possibly a combination of medications. Alternative treatments such as ketamine treatments, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) might be options, especially for patients with treatment-resistant depression or PTSD in addition to an anxiety disorder.
No matter what type of mental health disorder you have, a quality psychiatrist should be able to help. Whether you find someone advertised as a depression psychiatrist or bipolar psychiatrist or ADHD psychiatrist, they should have the skills to help you with anxiety disorders as well as any other co-occurring disorders you may have.
Do You Need An “Anxiety Psychiatrist Near Me?”
So often, when we search the internet, we add the words “near me” to the search, such as “anxiety psychiatrist near me.” Obviously, everyone wants a psychiatric provider conveniently close to their home but opting for a telepsychiatry service can be the best option.
Not only does this allow you the freedom to find the best doctor match for your needs and personality, but you also have the freedom of being able to meet with your doctor from just about anywhere on the planet as long as you have an internet connection.
Whether you want a local psychiatrist or a virtual psychiatrist, I can help. As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I can serve patients in Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Calabasas, Simi Valley, Agoura Hills and Camarillo, but if you live outside of these areas, I am always happy to meet virtually to help you find solutions for any mental health issues.
If you need an anxiety psychiatrist or need treatment for depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, substance use disorders or perhaps co-occurring disorders, please contact us today. I will provide you with a thorough evaluation and design a treatment plan that can greatly improve the quality of your life. Psychiatric disorders are not a weakness, they are biological diseases that we can treat, so get in contact with us as soon as possible to set up an appointment.
Living with a psychiatric disorder isn’t easy, and some medications can help successfully treat many mental health conditions. As a virtual psychiatrist, I know that patients are often wary of taking medications so let’s take a look at some facts and myths about medical intervention for mental illness.
Myth: Psychiatric Drugs Are Always Addictive
Let’s be honest, drug addiction is an enormous problem in the United States, and many patients are understandably worried about taking a new medication, especially if they have heard rumors that these types of drugs are dangerous and addictive. However, when taken as directed, medications can alleviate symptoms of mental illness without becoming addictive. Taking a prescribed medication is absolutely not the same as recreational drug use.
After all, your psychiatrist is providing you with a controlled dose of medication. If you take the medication, following the doctor’s instructions, addiction shouldn’t be an issue. However, many people who opt to not seek the help of a virtual psychiatrist and decide against taking prescribed medications end up self-medicating with alcohol and drugs, which is far more dangerous and ineffective than simply taking the prescribed dose of a medication that has been well-studied for the treatment of your particular mental health issue.
Myth: Psychiatric Medications Change My Personality & Health
Many people worry that these drugs will alter their personality or perhaps lower their energy levels to the point where they feel like a “zombie.” In general, this is a myth. Psychiatric medications are meant to help alleviate the symptoms of a mental health disorder and while you may no longer experience mania, anxiety or depression, you are still you and the medication won’t change that.
However, it is important to note that the medications can have side effects. For instance, some medications might suppress the appetite, so you will need to make sure, if this occurs, that you still eat a healthy, balanced diet. Additionally, if you do find that your medications make you feel exceptionally tired or that you have “brain fog” or other issues, please talk with your virtual psychiatrist as you may need to adjust the dosage of your medication or perhaps try a different medication.
Some common side effects, such as nausea, dizziness or fatigue, do tend to subside as your body gets used to the medication. Your psychiatrist should go over, in detail, the common side effects of these medications and how to manage these side effects in general. Usually, the side effects are far less difficult to deal with than the symptoms you deal with from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental health issue.
Myth: Medications Aren’t Really Necessary
As an experienced virtual psychiatrist, I don’t always reach for the prescription pad for every patient. In some cases, I might recommend a different type of treatment, such as EMDR treatments or a ketamine treatment rather than prescribing medication. Sometimes cognitive behavioral therapy or even meditation can be used to lessen symptoms. However, it’s important to keep in mind that mental health disorders are biological problems, and, in many cases, medications are the best treatment for these issues.
Many patients feel weak for using medications to help with their symptoms, but would you think that someone with asthma was weak for using an inhaler? Would you think someone with high blood pressure was weak for using medication? Of course not. There’s no reason to feel shame for using medication to help you alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD or any other mental health disorder. If these medications help you live a happier, healthier life, that’s all that matters.
While medications do help people manage the symptoms of mental illness, I also typically recommend concurrent therapies, such as behavioral therapy and talk therapy as it’s smart to use as many tools as possible to help you achieve long-term success. I also recommend that my patients schedule regular exercise, eat healthy meals and try to get a good night’s sleep whenever possible as a combination of all of these strategies can yield the best results.
As a virtual psychiatrist, I am a mental health professional as well as a medical doctor. This means, during the diagnostic process, I will consider your physical health as well as your mental health issues. Often, we need to address physical issues, such as chronic pain, in addition to your anxiety or depression or bipolar disorder. It is important to treat the whole person and all of their co-occurring disorders.
Types of Psychiatric Medications
In the chart below, there are five basic categories of psychiatric medications, take a quick look and then we will dive into some facts about the most commonly prescribed drugs for specific mental health issues.
Antidepressants – As the name suggests, antidepressants are used to treat depression and there are several different classes of antidepressants, most commonly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), as well as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). The latter two often are used when SSRI drugs are not working.
Antidepressants also can be used to treat some anxiety disorders, especially SSRIs, as these drugs boost the serotonin levels in the brain, which often reduces anxiety as well as helping to alleviate symptoms of depression. Zoloft and Prozac are two of the most common brands of antidepressants, and two of the most prescribed medications in the United States. Celexa is another commonly prescribed SSRI, and Cymbalta is one of the most commonly prescribed SNRIs.
In addition to antidepressants, some people with severe depression and treatment-resistant depression might consider ketamine treatments. Ketamine, when used in a prescribed manner using proper medical protocols in a doctor’s office, has shown success for some patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Anxiety Medications – There are many different types of anxiety medications, and some are used to treat issues such as generalized anxiety disorder while others are taken as a treatment for panic attacks. Xanax is the most commonly prescribed anxiety medication, and it is a treatment that you would take every day. Some anxiety medications, on the other hand, are meant to be taken during times of extreme anxiety or panic.
Some patients will take a long-term drug to control general anxiety or a panic disorder and have another medicine on hand essentially as a “rescue” medication if a panic attack occurs. For all patients with anxiety or panic disorders, it is important to combine medication with behavioral therapy tactics that help you manage your symptoms as effectively as possible.
Antipsychotic Medications – This class of medication is meant for the treatment of disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There are two types of these drugs – Typical & Atypical. The “typical” antipsychotics tend to be older drugs such as Thorazine and haloperidol, which have been around for more than 70 years. While these typical antipsychotics can be helpful, they can have severe side effects for some patients.
Atypical antipsychotics, such as clozapine and risperidone, tend to produce fewer side effects, which is why they are more commonly used these days as treatment than the “typical” class of antipsychotics. Still, in some cases, the older “typical” drugs are used.
Stimulants – While there are myths circulating around many types of psychiatric drugs, stimulants tend to be the most controversial. These drugs, such as Ritalin and Adderall are used for the treatment of ADHD. Of course, we all hear about these two drugs being used recreationally, but, when used as prescribed, they can be highly beneficial for the treatment of ADHD.
Let’s go back to the earlier example of a person with asthma using an inhaler. The inhaler, when used for the treatment of asthma, is a safe and effective treatment. If a person without asthma used this drug, it could be dangerous. Stimulants are just the same. If used by a person with ADHD, as directed and prescribed, these drugs can help improve concentration and focus and make life much easier.
Mood Stabilizers – For people with disorders such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, mood stabilizers can be very helpful with the regulation of mood shifts. These drugs actually are anticonvulsant medications and are also used to treat those with seizure disorders and epilepsy. Lithium and Lamictal are two common types of mood stabilizers. Often these drugs are used in conjunction with other medications to help manage a variety of symptoms.
First and foremost, it is crucial that you always take your medications as directed by your physician. With many types of psychiatric medications, you cannot simply quit taking the medication, you need to taper off and you should not increase the dosage without talking to your psychiatrist first.
With many of these medications, you need to avoid using alcohol and other drugs. Alcohol mixed with some psychiatric medications can be very dangerous. However, there are other possible drug interactions of which you need to be aware. For instance, with some SSRI drugs, it is not recommended that you use ibuprofen or some allergy medications, such as Benadryl.
Your virtual psychiatrist should provide you with a list of common drug interactions, but you also can talk with your personal physician and often a pharmacist if you have any concerns. It is recommended before taking any over-the-counter medications or prescription medications that you do some research to ensure that all of these meds are safe to take together. Also, if you become pregnant or are breastfeeding, be sure to talk with your doctor about which medications are the safest options for you.
If you find that some of your medications make you drowsy or nauseous, it can be smart to take the medication at night, if possible. Nausea tends to fade as your body gets used to a new medication, but ginger chews and ginger ale can help soothe nausea for some patients. When starting any new medication, it can be wise to create a daily diary to track symptoms and record how you feel in general. It does take several weeks for some weeks for some psychiatric medications to take effect, so you might not feel any improvement right away.
Finding A Virtual Psychiatrist
During the pandemic, telepsychiatry became the norm for most patients, and it can be a great option to consider. Using an online psychiatrist allows you the freedom to truly select the ideal doctor-patient match, and it doesn’t matter where the doctor is located. Many patients also prefer the ease of handling appointments virtually because they can avoid traffic and driving, and many are more comfortable in their homes than in a doctor’s office.
As an experienced virtual psychiatrist, I can provide you with comprehensive treatment for many mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse and more. Whether you need an ADHD psychiatrist, a bipolar psychiatrist, an anxiety psychiatrist or a psychiatrist for another disorder or co-occurring disorders, I can help. Give me a call today to set up a consultation and let’s work toward building a happier, healthier future for you.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is estimated to affect more than 3.5% of the U.S. population, and this disorder can happen to anyone. If you think you have PTSD, a PTSD psychiatrist can help you reach a diagnosis and there are many treatments available including EMDR, which is a type of psychotherapy that many people are unaware exists. Let’s take a look at PTSD, EDMR and other treatment options.
What Is PTSD & What Causes It?
PTSD is a mental health disorder that affects people who have either experienced a traumatic event or witnessed a traumatic event. Soldiers often will suffer from PTSD because of their combat experiences. In fact, PTSD was sometimes called combat fatigue or shell shock, and while it is common for soldiers to experience PTSD, many other traumatic events can trigger this disorder.
For instance, if you have been the victim of violent crime, such as rape or assault or witnessed a violent crime, this can cause PTSD. Victims of abuse (physical, sexual or mental abuse) can suffer from PTSD. A car accident or another type of accident or a near-death experience can cause PTSD, even if it was a loved one who was near death or in an accident. A person who lost a loved one to suicide or a long-term illness also can experience PTSD.
Additionally, others might experience PTSD. For instance, police officers or firefighters that repeatedly are exposed to violent crimes or severe trauma, such as car accidents, might experience PTSD.
In general, the American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a disorder caused by either experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event or series of traumatic events. In addition to witnessing or experiencing trauma, the person must be experiencing intrusion-related symptoms, such as suffering from flashbacks, experiencing recurrent dreams related to the trauma or perhaps experiencing frequent involuntary memories of the event. For children, they may engage in repetitive play that mimics various aspects of trauma.
Additionally, the criterion for PTSD includes avoidance. This means the person might avoid any places or people that remind them of the event or perhaps try to block out the memories or their feelings regarding the trauma.
People with PTSD also experience altered moods and reactivity. For instance, they might have difficulty expressing any positive feelings and instead focus on feelings of negativity. They might even have trouble remembering details about the trauma itself, which is known as dissociative amnesia, which is an amnesia that is not caused by factors such as a head injury or drug use.
We also find that PTSD sufferers experience heightened reactivity. For instance, they might be hypervigilant, constantly checking doors and windows. They might have outbursts of anger or physical violence that seem out of proportion. They often experience difficulty with sleep and general concentration or even engage in reckless behavior.
In order to reach a diagnosis, these issues must last for at least one month and cause a significant disruption in your daily functioning and relationships. This could be problems at home or at work that can not be attributed to another physical condition or substances such as medication or alcohol. Your PTSD psychiatrist should conduct a thorough evaluation to ensure a proper diagnosis and once we’ve reached a diagnosis of PTSD, psychiatrists will start looking at treatment options.
What Is EMDR & How Can It Help?
While there are many treatments for PTSD, one that I find particularly interesting is known as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This treatment was designed to help those with traumatic memories, and it requires no medication nor extensive treatment to be effective.
There are several steps or phases in the process of EMDR, including:
Phase 1: History, Evaluation & Planning
During the first session, your PTSD psychiatrist or psychologist will take a detailed history and identify the traumatic memories associated with your PTSD as well as taking a look at what current situations trigger a negative response. Once we’ve evaluated the source or sources of your trauma, we can begin to focus on planning effective treatment.
Keep in mind, if you don’t meet the full criteria for PTSD, EMDR may still be a successful treatment option for your anxiety and stress. Some studies show anxiety and depression may be reduced using EMDR techniques.
Phase 2: Preparation
In this phase, your PTSD psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist, will provide you with some tools to help you handle emotional distress. These tools will be useful during your actual EMDR sessions, but also can help you handle stress and anxiety in general, especially during the times in between an EMDR session.
Phases 3-6: The Desensitization Phases
In Phase 3, we identify a specific trigger memory that we want to address. For those with single traumas, that experience (car accident, rape, death of a loved one, etc.) will be the memory we target. For people with multiple traumas, we might select a specific incident, such as a particular moment of abuse that was especially traumatic or typical of the general type of trauma you experienced.
In Phases 4-6, we undergo the desensitization process. The patient will focus on the memory, and we use special eye movements where your therapist moves their fingers in your line of sight, and you follow the movement with just your eyes. Your therapist then will introduce more pleasant thoughts as you continue to move your eyes and follow hand movements, although a therapist often uses a different rhythm or type of hand movement when introducing positive thoughts.
Phase 7: Closure
After we’ve completed a session, we evaluate whether or not the specific target memory was processed during the desensitization phases. If not, the therapist will provide the patient with some techniques to help them handle anxiety and stress between the sessions. The goal of the closure section of the session is also to help the patient feel more peaceful, less anxious and more optimistic about the next session and the future in general. Often the sessions are spaced very closely together, so that the patient can work through the issues as quickly as possible.
Phase 8: Re-Evaluation
This actually will be the first component of your next session as your therapist evaluates the success of the previous treatment or treatments. If you have completed all of your sessions, this re-evaluation appointment might be a follow-up appointment scheduled several weeks after finishing your desensitization treatments.
The advantages of EMDR include the success rate, ranging from 70% up to more than 95% in some studies. Typically, patients with a single trauma experience faster and more permanent success. If you have experienced multiple traumas, it can take a few more sessions to achieve successful remission of PTSD symptoms. Additionally, no medication is needed, and the entire process can be handled very quickly, providing you with quick relief from your PTSD symptoms. EMDR also seems to yield permanent results for most patients.
Of course, in some cases, especially for those who experienced multiple traumas, such as years of abuse or perhaps just several traumatic episodes, it can be helpful to use additional therapies, and there are several options to consider.
What Other Types Of Treatments Can A PTSD Psychiatrist Provide?
There are several additional options to help reduce or eliminate symptoms of PTSD. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) can be an option. With this type of therapy, you address negative thoughts about the trauma or about yourself, and this includes talk therapy as well as writing about your trauma.
Typically, CPT begins with a person writing a detailed account of the trauma and reading it aloud to their therapist. The therapist’s office serves as a safe space so that the patient can face their emotions and also perhaps identify issues associated with their interpretations of the events. For instance, an abuse victim might write out several examples about why they, the victim, are to blame, and the therapist can begin to redirect these thoughts and help them look at the trauma from a more detached perspective.
With CPT, the therapist also provides their patients with an assortment of strategies to help them deal with issues related to PTSD. People with PTSD often struggle with issues related to self-esteem, safety, power/control, intimacy and trust. Finding ways to redirect negative thoughts about these issues can be very helpful.
Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy also has shown some success, and, again, this targets those negative feelings and thoughts. With PE, you undergo talk therapy where you discuss traumatic events in detail and process your emotions regarding these events and use different breathing techniques to help you manage your anxiety.
Additionally, with PE, the therapist will give you some homework to help you begin to expose yourself to situations or people that might generate fear and anxiety. This homework begins with smaller, less stressful assignments and is known as in vivo exposure.
For example, with PTSD from a car accident, a person might be fearful of allowing another person to drive while they are a passenger, as this can feel like a lack of control. With in vivo exposure, you might begin by just sitting in the passenger seat with someone in the driver’s seat. Then, you might allow that person to drive around the block. Gradually, you could increase the time as you begin to feel more comfortable, utilizing the breathing techniques and other tools you learned in therapy.
Finding A Psychiatrist for PTSD
A PTSD psychiatrist is a professional that provides you with a solid diagnosis. My goal as a psychiatrist is to identify all of the issues troubling a patient, which might include identifying PTSD as well as any co-occurring mental health disorders. Additionally, as a medical doctor, I also consider any medical conditions that might need to be addressed to achieve a happier, healthier life.
Typically, a PTSD psychiatrist can provide you with a diagnosis and any medications that you might need, and some might provide EMDR treatments. In some cases, your PTSD psychiatrist might refer you to a therapist or psychologist for EMDR or other types of therapy.
In my practice, I offer comprehensive telepsychiatry services, so we can meet virtually from wherever you might live. My offices are in Thousand Oaks, but as a virtual psychiatrist, I can provide services to patients throughout Southern California and beyond.
If you are suffering from PTSD or severe anxiety related to a single trauma or multiple traumas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me or another PTSD psychiatrist as soon as possible. PTSD is a treatable disease, and we can provide you with options that will help you live a happier, successful 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.