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Should I Try Online Therapy?

Why would I want to talk to an online psychiatrist about all of my personal issues?

How do I know I’m ready to talk openly about my problems?

If I take this leap, and what if they want me to try psychiatric medication? Some people find these scary steps to take. When I realized I needed something additional in my treatment plan to manage anxiety and panic, I was nervous, and I didn’t want to accept it. However, I couldn’t control my panic attacks as much as I tried to stop them. At the time, I didn’t understand there are ways to manage the symptoms better. After experiencing daily anxiety attacks, I was exhausted from the debilitating physical and emotional symptoms. I made the tough decision to consult with a psychiatrist. It was the late 1990s, and online psychiatry did not exist to my knowledge. I was 18 years old and terrified of walking into an office to talk to a psychiatrist. What if she thought that I was weird or worse, that there was something “wrong” with me? 

In 1998 the internet was becoming popular among young people, and I was one of them. Had I known there was an online psychiatrist to speak to, maybe I would have chosen this option rather than showing up in person, sitting there with a stranger, and telling this person my deep dark secrets. It was awkward talking about suicidal ideation and intrusive thoughts that made me want to die. There is something intimate about speaking to somebody online — especially when it comes to taking medication for mental illness. I felt like even if you’re in an office that is supposedly private, people are waiting outside who could potentially hear what you’re saying. As someone who struggles with paranoia, I would prefer to talk to a mental health professional in a more secure setting; that’s the idea behind seeing an online psychiatrist.

There’s something freeing about revealing your struggles online; there’s an intimacy that’s unique. Here’s an example: I have many online friends. There are things I’ve shared with this group of individuals I have not even told my friends who I see every day. The internet feels often feels like a hidden vortex. Whatever you say is anonymous, and nobody is there to judge you if you’re hanging out with the right online friends. People have entirely secret lives they only reveal to friends or mental health professionals online. It’s a great feeling to share your deep dark secrets with people who you may never meet in reality. Let’s be clear: an online psychiatrist is a real person, however, you may never meet this individual in a tangible form, despite your extensive interactions with them. Still, they can change your life for the better. It’s mind-blowing when you think about this concept.

When you’re sharing sensitive information such as intrusive thoughts, it might be easier to do so when you’re not sitting in the same room with somebody. I imagine myself at age 18 presented with two options: you can see somebody in an office or you can hang out in your house and talk to someone on the internet. The second one sounds better to me, and I am much older than 18 now.

Are you convinced?

Some people might be skeptical of what an online psychiatrist can do. However, this person is a trained mental health professional who can do what in-person psychiatrists do. Making a judgment about what an online psychiatrist can and cannot do without informed information is pretty much useless. Find out for yourself before you decide this is not an option for you. Now I put the question to you: would you want to speak to somebody online about managing your psychiatric medications? What are the pros and cons of talking to an online psychiatrist?

Getty image by FS-Stock.

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