Can you get diagnosed by a psychiatrist online?
Updated on March 12, 2023
Online Psychiatrists: What do they prescribe and how do I get to them?
Mental health is a silent crisis in America, affecting about 21% of adults and 17% of minors each year. Despite its prevalence, mental illness goes largely unnoticed in everyday life--you rarely hear people talk about anxiety and depression, even with their closest friends and relatives.
Stigma and secrecy can make it difficult to get the help you need. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the average time between onset of symptoms and treatment is 11 years.
If seeing a doctor in person doesn't seem like the best option for you, you can see an online psychiatrist. Doctors who use telemedicine can diagnose mental illness and prescribe many medications, all from the comfort of your own home.
In this article, I'll explain what a psychiatrist is, when it's best to see one, what they can prescribe, and how online psychiatrists work so you can decide if online psychiatry (also called telepsychiatry) is right for you.
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a licensed health care professional who specializes in treating mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists usually have a medical degree (M.D.D.) and extensive medical training.
They can provide therapy, test for mental illness, and prescribe medication or other treatment options for patients.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
Psychiatrists are somewhat different from psychologists, who can also work in the area of talk therapy and provide support for people with depression and anxiety.
Psychologists are not doctors. Although psychologists may have a doctorate, they did not attend medical school. They have extensive training in human behavior and psychotherapy, but they cannot prescribe medication. If you are interested in therapy, Telehealth offers K Therapy, a text therapy program that includes unlimited messaging with a licensed therapist, as well as free resources developed by mental health experts that you can use yourself.
You need to see a psychiatrist to get an antidepressant, anti-anxiety or mood stabilizing medication.
When should I see a psychiatrist?
If you are struggling with symptoms of anxiety or depression and are thinking about scheduling a treatment appointment, online psychiatry or telepsychiatry may be worth a try.
A health care provider can help you understand your options and develop a treatment plan to feel better.
Symptoms of clinical depression include:
- Constant sad or melancholic mood
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Difficulty making decisions or concentrating on things
- Chronic fatigue
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep (difficulty falling asleep or trouble falling asleep)
- Thoughts of suicide or self-harm
Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling anxious, unable to concentrate, or nervous
- Constant feeling of anxiety
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness)
Mental health problems may seem lonely because they are not always obvious to others in your life. But be assured that what you're feeling is normal and treatable, and it's perfectly okay to ask for help. Telemedicine is a great option for treating problems like anxiety and depression without seeing a doctor in person.
If you have suicidal thoughts, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24-hour support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you prefer to communicate online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting Lifeline's chat room.
What can a psychiatrist prescribe?
Psychiatrists may prescribe a variety of behavioral and mental health medications, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, stimulants and mood stabilizers.
Below are some of the most common medications that mental health professionals may prescribe to their patients:
All of these prescription medications have slightly different side effects, so it may take some time to find the right treatment plan for you. Stick to what your doctor suggests, as follow-up sessions and medication will help you stay happy and healthy in the long run.
Online therapy can be a great option when combined with psychiatric medication to create this type of comprehensive treatment plan.
Can you see a psychiatrist online?
A certified online psychiatrist is very similar to an in-person psychiatrist. They have the same medical training and education.
The biggest difference is how online physicians work. Online psychiatrists see patients by video link, phone, text message, or a combination of these methods, making them easily accessible to people who have difficulty commuting to work, who don't want to see a doctor in public places, or who can't get local medical care.
Doctors like ours at Telehealth are also available on demand - we can communicate with patients instantly 24/7.
When looking for telepsychiatry services, make sure you end up with a certified, licensed, and HIPAA-compliant provider, which means they are committed to keeping your information private. Also check to see if your health insurance covers care from an online provider.
What can a psychiatrist prescribe online?
Online psychiatrists can prescribe most of the same psychiatric medications as a face-to-face doctor, with some exceptions: They cannot treat patients who require ongoing care due to a chronic illness that may require a physical exam.
They also cannot prescribe controlled substances, ADHD medications, or medications that can be abused.
What is the reason for this? With riskier drugs, it's better to work with a doctor who can physically follow you to make sure you're doing okay.
Online health care is great for its convenience, but it can't always replace face-to-face interaction with a specialist, especially if you have a complex mental or behavioral illness such as bipolar disorder.
But don't worry - if an online psychiatrist can't help you with your particular medical problem, he or she will give you recommendations and directions on where to go for help next time.
Can an online psychiatrist write a prescription for Adderall?
No. Adderall is an FDA controlled substance that cannot be legally prescribed over the Internet. If you want to take Adderall, see a psychiatrist who will diagnose you and help you with your medication.
Can an online psychiatrist write a prescription for Xanax?
No. Xanax is an FDA controlled substance that cannot be legally prescribed over the Internet. That doesn't mean it can't be useful for some people, but you should see your doctor in person to discuss your options.
How do I talk to a psychiatrist and get a prescription?
Each online psychiatrist works a little differently, so check them all out until you find the one that best fits your needs.
For example, if you want to talk to one of Telehealth's affiliated physicians or licensed therapists, download the app and follow the prompts to contact someone who can help.
With messaging, the doctor will ask the standard questions you'd hear at any clinic about symptoms, medical history, allergies, and current medications.
They will also ask when you started noticing symptoms and how much they interfere with your daily life. After getting the necessary information, the doctor will make a diagnosis and, if necessary, offer a prescription.
If your situation fits within the parameters of what an online psychiatrist can prescribe, you can get a prescription soon after the initial consultation.
Other online providers and therapy services work through video sessions or phone calls. These psychiatry sessions are often like face-to-face meetings, and you can talk confidentially about whatever is on your mind.
Again, if necessary, the provider can prescribe the medication or refill the account.
The best part about using telemedicine for mental health care? There is no waiting time, so you can get to your appointment much faster than if you had to take time off work to drive across town.
Online mental health services are also unobtrusive, compassionate and accessible wherever you are.
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