As a mental health provider, I have recently been involved in much discussion about the mental health effects of COVID-19 infection.
Patients often discuss the anxiety and depression associated with the fear of contracting the disease or the isolation necessary after becoming exposed or infected with COVID-19. A report from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention poll showed that 41% of respondents have faced mental health challenges related to COVID-19. Additionally, the poll showed that 31%, of respondents were experiencing anxiety or depression symptoms. Another thirteen percent said they had started or increased substance use and 26% were experiencing trauma or stress-related disorder symptoms. Eleven percent of respondents said they had seriously considered suicide in 30 days prior to the survey.
While COVID-19 is causing widespread anxiety and depression throughout the United States it is even more devastating to those individuals already suffering from these mental health disorders. As a provider who cares for these individuals, I must ask myself what I can do to improve the health of my patients.
Fortunately, there are innovative ways to connect these patients with their psychiatric care providers. In these unprecedented times, many psychiatrists are offering to treat patients via telehealth or telemedicine. Specifically, this allows patients to meet with their psychiatrist from the comfort of their homes using only a smartphone, computer or tablet. We at Affiliated Medical Group (AMG) have been utilizing this technique for several years and have the capacity to ensure that our patients can easily adapt to this form of medical visit.
The overwhelming spread and size of the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted the majority of insurance plans to accept telehealth as a viable option to patient visits. Just check with your plan in advance to see if this type of visit is covered or call us and our staff will be glad to assist you with the process. The State of Florida has been overwhelmingly supportive of the use of telemedicine and has encouraged providers and patients alike to engage in this form of medical care. Affiliated Medical Group’s experienced providers and staff can assure you that your visit will result a quality outcome that is inclusive of the same type of care that you would receive if you visited one of our office locations.
Additionally, your provider will utilize a secure HIPAA-compliant platform to conduct the telehealth session and you can be assured you that your health information is fully protected.
Patients who suffer from anxiety disorders may experience intense and excessive worry and fear about everyday situations. And COVID-19 may significantly increase these patient’s level of discomfort and worry. Fear of the unknown and uncertainty over how long we will have to resort to limiting our daily lives, fear of contracting the coronavirus or even worry about how this will affect one’s financial situation are legitimate concerns. These concerns affect everyone but may create unhealthy anxiety for many people. We urge people to not leave these feelings untreated as they may significantly undermine overall health. Providers understand your anxiety and can offer you many different ways to cope with these issues. There are highly effective medications to deal with anxiety and your psychiatrist can craft a medication regimen that effectively works for your individual needs.
Additionally, the continued social distancing and isolation created by the pandemic have heightened the depression of many people. The 24/7 barrage of devastating stories related to the pandemic have no doubt created additional depression for many Floridians. Those already suffering from a depressive disorder may find that their current medications are no longer effective and need to adjust their current medications. Affiliated Medical Group providers can assist you with this problem from the comfort of your own home via our telemedicine visits. We encourage you to virtually visit us and let us help you better deal with the depressive effects of the pandemic. Again, there are numerous medications that are available for the treatment of depression so that no one should suffer from the debilitating effects of the disease.
Furthermore, it is important that we recognize that adults are not the only ones experiencing mental health issues as a result of COVID-19. Children’s lives have been disrupted in many ways, from home schooling to decreased physical and social activities. These changes can be terribly upsetting to children and need to be adequately addressed by parents and at times a mental health professional. We have seen the additional issues created for these children and our experience allows us to be in a position to help them and their parents. Telemedicine can be extremely effective in assisting children as they do not need to leave the “safe” confines of their home to go to a doctor’s office. Telehealth has proven to be a very effective method of ensuring care for children.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the levels of anxiety and depression in individuals throughout America and the World. As medical professionals and government officials have encouraged people to stay at home in order to prevent the spread, the question to be asked is how to receive treatment for mental health services. Telemedicine is the solution and it offers people the opportunity to receive treatment from the comfort and safety of home. Now is the time to embrace your own health and to embrace a new mechanism for treatment. Do not let the COVID-19 pandemic decimate your mental health, utilize telehealth to allow your psychiatric provider to ensure you receive the care you need during difficult times. As the pandemic lessens its grip on all of us, we will be supporting the return to the office for some patients but for now embrace telemedicine and stay well.
As a Leading Provider of Psychiatric Services, AMG is Pleased to Welcome Dr. David Ahlberg and Dr. Harvey Shapiro to our Florida Practice.