Let's face it, anxiety and depression are common problems in the modern world, even more so now. But traditional treatment options, like seeing a mental health professional, weren't always affordable, easy, or covered by health insurance. Even if you find help close to home, you may feel pressured to stick with your counselor because starting from scratch and finding another therapist is a very important process. And to make matters worse, if you're depressed, you know how hard it can be to motivate yourself to deal with finding a therapist, scheduling mid-week therapy sessions, dealing with insurance, and more.
Fortunately, there is now a real alternative. With the rise of telemedicine and direct-to-consumer (D2C) healthcare offerings, we now have D2C mental health options that you can access directly from your computer or phone. Skip in-person appointments and get direct access to mental health professionals and medications delivered to your door (no pharmacy visits required).
Because most of these services prescribe generic drugs, the cost is often much lower than your insurance co-pay, but some services also make it easier to use your insurance or HSA/FSA. And if your counselor/therapist isn't a good fit, you're not limited to your geographic area, you can choose someone else through the various websites available.
In this article, we review Cerebral (GetCerebral.com), a website that offers online medication and counseling for anxiety and depression. We will also compare Cerebral to other websites dedicated to mental health care and/or medication.
What is Cerebral, and how can they help with anxiety and depression?
Cerebral is a mental health startup that focuses specifically on anxiety, depression and insomnia support. Their offerings include online visits with a prescription provider, care counseling and drug prescriptions.
The way Cerebral works is through a subscription model where you pay a flat monthly fee for ongoing care. We'll discuss cost below, but you pay a lower upfront price then a monthly subscription On an ongoing basis, you'll have monthly appointments (and unlimited messaging) with your Care Advisor, a video call from your prescriber (drugs), and have your medication conveniently delivered to your home. if assigned.
This service is designed to overcome barriers to mental health treatment, such as fear of judgment and cost. It provides a convenient way for people to get the care they need online at their convenience and through D2C Rx deliveries at a flat rate.
Depending on your current experience, it can help you cope with things like personal counseling visits, pharmacy visits, or avoiding mental health care. The company states that “we provide our clients with both evidence-based therapeutics and medication management because a combination of both types of care has been shown to have the greatest benefits.”
Where (in which states) is Cerebral available?
Cerebral is expanding rapidly, but is not *yet* available in all states. This is because providers must be licensed in the state where the patient is located to prescribe the medication. Here is a list of states where Cerebral is licensed to prescribe anxiety pills:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- Washington D.C.
The same geographical limitation also applies to therapy. Cerebral is currently licensed to conduct virtual therapy (ie, where its Medicine + Therapy and Therapy programs are available)
- New York
- North Carolina
The company is working hard to expand its service to more states soon, and we'll update this list as they expand.
Details on Cerebral's Medication and Counseling
Medications may be prescribed as part of your treatment plan. The website says it means non-addictive and uncontrolled drugs such as SSRIs and SNRIs. The medicine included in the subscription price is a generic version. You can choose a brand-name drug, but you'll pay more than the cost of the subscription. Cerebral says that if this type of treatment isn't enough, its providers can refer you to face-to-face treatment for controlled substance use.
The site says some of its care counselors are licensed therapists, but not all are. He says that they are all well trained in therapeutic methods. It's unclear exactly what kind of care you'll receive, but the site lists examples including behavioral activation, motivational interviewing, meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises and grounding exercises. It also mentions the use of evidence-based therapeutic methods.
Source: Cerebral App
Are the anxiety medicines prescribed by Cerebral legit?
Mental health issues are quite complex, so not every treatment will work for every individual. That said, SSRIs and SNRIs, the drugs that Cerebral can prescribe, have been shown to help people in many clinical trials and are widely prescribed. Therefore, the medications that Cerebral can offer you are legitimate FDA-approved medications for depression and other mental health medications.
According to the Mayo Clinic, SSRIs work by increasing serotonin levels the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and SSRIs are generally well-liked because they don't affect other neurotransmitters too much, meaning they're quite specific in their action on the brain. Common SSRI medications include:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
Sertraline (Zoloft)These are real drugs with potential side effects that include some of the following (and possibly others not listed here): Nausea and stomach problems, headache, drowsiness, dry mouth, insomnia, irritability, possible sexual problems, dizziness and more. So you should tell your prescribing doctor if you have had problems with any of these medicines and which ones you have been prescribed in the past.
Another type of medication that Cerebral may prescribe is SNRIs. Again, there are many FDA-approved brand-name and generic antidepressant SNRIs. These work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain, again two neurotransmitters. Some SNRIs can also be used to treat anxiety. Here are some of the FDA-approved SRNIs (again, we don't know which, if any, your brain prescriber will suggest to help you):
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Since these are legal drugs, there is a possibility of side effects. Some side effects include nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, headache, and sweating. Some patients also experienced constipation, fatigue, decreased sexual function or difficulty. Again, be open and honest when working with Cerebral so they can help you avoid medications you've had problems with in the past and can recommend the ones most likely to help you.
If you think the service can help you, get started by clicking “Get Started” on the website. You will answer a short questionnaire about your mental health symptoms. You will then have a video visit with your prescribing provider who will evaluate you and create an Rx treatment plan if needed. After that, she meets with a care counselor who provides ongoing mental health support. You will then follow a monthly care plan.
You have the opportunity to be evaluated first, and then, if you qualify, decide if you want to go ahead and request anxiety treatment.
How much does anxiety treatment cost via Cerebral?
The introductory price of Brain is $30 for the first month, then $99 per month after that. There is always a chance that they will get more discounts. click here to see if they have it now. In the website's FAQs, it is mentioned that the service is intended for long-term treatment. After the initial price of $30 per month, you would pay $99 per month to continue the service.
You are eligible for an FSA/HSA, so you can pay your enrollment fee with those health funds. Otherwise, you can use your health insurance plan depending on the coverage. The service will not be considered an in-network provider, but the company may provide you with a bill to send to your insurance company to see if you are reimbursed or will count toward your deductible. So it shouldn't be too difficult to use your insurance or FSA/HSA to get mental health care from the brain.
How does Cerebral compare to other online telehealth services?
Cerebral is not for everyone and some people will benefit more from other services. The company claims that it is only intended for people over the age of 18 who live in the states where the company operates. Providers are currently only licensed for California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, but plan to expand quickly. Currently, if you are under 18 or live in another state, you may need to explore other options or wait until Cerebral is activated in your state.
Likewise, Cerebral states that its service is not intended for people suffering from schizophrenia, suicidal ideation or substance abuse, nor for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you belong to one of these groups but still feel you need mental health support, look elsewhere for help. It is also not intended for people in crisis who need to call 911, a suicide prevention line, or other emergency helpline such as 211. (However, some other online services also say they are not suitable for some of these scenarios, which may instead require in-person professional support and/or emergency services.)
Again, if you are thinking about harming or killing yourself, call 911 for immediate help. The brain is not an emergency solution.
There are a few other situations that Cerebral isn't made for either. For example, you may have certain preferences that don't quite fit the brain model. Maybe you want counseling without medication, or your prescribing provider doesn't recommend medication. In that case, you'd still be paying full price for a Cerebral subscription without using all of its features. Or maybe you're looking for a licensed therapist or a specific type of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. In these types of cases, you can compare Cerebral to online therapy options such as Talkspace, Betterhelp or Regain.
Talkspace says it has thousands of licensed therapists. You have an evaluation, choose a payment plan, and get assigned to a licensed therapist. You can text your therapist on your own schedule and they respond once or twice a day. You can also schedule a video chat.
With Betterhelp, you are assigned an advisor based on certain criteria, and you can change if needed. You communicate with your advisor through your choice of messaging, live chat, phone calls and/or video conferencing.