Telemedicine and telepsychiatry are fast becoming norms in our society. In the past, we almost always met our patients face to face, but the global pandemic has forced us to pivot and provide many online services. What we’ve found is that telemedicine often can be just as effective as in-person treatment, and this is especially true with psychiatric treatments.
Advantages to Telepsychiatry
There are some advantages to telepsychiatry over traditional sessions. For instance, you don’t have to leave your home for treatment. As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I treat patients throughout the LA area and Ventura County. If you are already suffering from anxiety or stressed out from dealing with a mental disease, a 20-minute drive on an LA freeway probably is not going to lower your stress levels, but with telemedicine, we can meet in the comfort of your home.
While psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists do all they can to make their offices feel warm and inviting, being able to relax in your favorite armchair or sit on the couch next to your furry companion can reduce anxiety and make it easier for you to describe and talk about the challenges you are facing.
Additionally, we have the ability to meet using HIPAA-approved video platforms. These ensure security and protect our patients’ privacy. It’s just as simple as using Skype or other videoconferencing platforms, but more secure.
As a psychiatrist in Thousand Oaks, I love that telemedicine provides me with the ability to meet with patients that otherwise would have been too far away to help. Whether you live a few minutes away in Westlake Village or far south in San Diego County, we can schedule appointments conveniently on your smartphone, tablet or desktop.
Why Seek Treatment?
The short answer – because you deserve to live a happier life and, in general, you cannot cure a mental disease on your own. You might be able to alleviate some symptoms using diet, exercise, meditation, etc., but to get to the root of the disease and find long-term solutions, professional help is necessary.
Millions of Americans suffer from mental diseases, but only about half of these people seek treatment. In many cases, they are simply ashamed of their mental health issues. However, if approximately 1 in 5 adults experiences some type of mental illness, it’s clearly common and not something to feel shame about.
Let’s compare mental illness to other common diseases, such as asthma. For instance, about 1 in 13 people has asthma, and that’s far fewer people than the number that suffer from mental illness, yet people with asthma readily seek treatment to keep this disease managed.
With mental illness, there is an associated stigma that often prevents people from seeking help, but the truth is simple – mental diseases are not a sign of weakness, they are biological diseases that often are treatable. Just as asthma is treatable, just as diabetes is treatable, just as arthritis is treatable, mental diseases are treatable as well.
Any disease can impact our happiness and functionality, which is why seeking treatment is so important. We need to stop thinking of mental diseases as a sign of weakness or abnormality. They are simply diseases that need to be treated, just as you would with any other disease. We can treat mental illnesses successfully and for the long term, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADD, ADHD, addiction, phobias and just about any other mental disorder you might have.
We often see images and representations in books, movies and television of mental diseases, and these often do more harm than good. This is especially true with issues such as addiction or bipolar disorder. These often seem like medical issues that are insurmountable to overcome, but I promise you, these can be managed, and your life can become happier, healthier and more productive.
How To Select A Care Provider
If you’ve been suffering from any type of mental disease and have tried to get help in the past, you understand how difficult it can be to find a doctor or therapist with whom you feel comfortable, but also someone who truly can provide you with the treatment you need and deserve.
Many people begin by working with a therapist or psychologist, and while this can be helpful, it’s often wise to consult with a psychiatrist. With our training in medicine and psychiatry, we can treat the whole person. While you may be suffering from anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, there also might be underlying physical causes that contribute to these mental diseases.
Whether you select a psychiatrist or a psychologist or therapist, it is important that you select someone with strong diagnostic skills and someone with a genuine interest in helping people heal and grow. I hear so often from patients that have met with multiple doctors or therapists who didn’t truly seem to care or didn’t take the time to look at the whole person in front of them.
So often, patients will come to me with co-occurring disorders and it’s important to address all of the issues a person is facing to help them gain a higher level of functioning and a greater degree of happiness and health.
For instance, many patients suffer depression and anxiety or perhaps an eating disorder and depression. You might be self-medicating your depression or anxiety or chronic pain and find yourself in the grip of drug or alcohol addiction. We must treat all of the issues you are facing, and you need a doctor or therapist that truly digs deeply to discover all of the mental (and physical) issues that need to be addressed.
My Telepsychiatry Practice
I have been a practicing psychiatrist since 1989 and my patients include adolescents, adults and the elderly. I specialize in the treatment of mood disorders, ADD/ADHD, substance abuse and dementia. I use a multi-disciplinary approach and my treatment framework addresses four dimensions: biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual.
Treatment begins with a thorough psychiatric consultation, which typically includes two to four sessions, and these sessions include a comprehensive evaluation of the psychological, biological, medical and social causes of your mental health issues. Because psychiatrists are medical doctors as well as mental health specialists, we have a unique perspective on the interactions between the health of the body and the mind.
Once we have completed a comprehensive evaluation, we can work on developing a workable treatment plan. In some cases, this involves medication as well as different types of therapy. In other cases, medication might be less effective. Each person is unique and deserves a personalized treatment plan that addresses all of their health issues to ensure a happier and more productive life.
If you are suffering from any type of mental issue, please do not wait any longer to contact us and move down the path toward recovery. While my office is located in Thousand Oaks, telepsychiatry allows me to help people from just about anywhere in Southern California. Please give us a call and get help today.
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.