Let’s face it, anxiety and depression are common problems of the modern world – even more so right now. But traditional treatment options like seeing a mental health professional haven’t always been available, easy, or covered by health insurance. Even if you find help near your home, you may feel pressured to “click” with your counselor – because starting from scratch and trying to find another therapist is such a major process. And to make it even worse, if you are depressed, you know how hard it can be to motivate to deal with finding a therapist, scheduling therapy sessions in the middle of the week, dealing with insurance, etc.
Thankfully, there is now starting to be a real alternative. With the rise of telemedicine and the boom in direct-to-consumer (D2C) health offerings, we now have virtual treatment options that you can access directly through your computer or phone. Skip the in-person appointments and get direct access to mental health professionals and medication delivered to your door (no pharmacy visit needed).
Because most of these services prescribe generic medication, the cost is usually a lot lower than going through your insurance co-pay, but some of the services also make it easy to use your insurance or HSA / FSA. And if your counselor/therapist isn’t a good fit, you’re not limited by your geographical area—you can pick another one through the various sites available.
In this article, we’re reviewing Cerebral (Cerebral.com), a site that offers both medication and/or online therapy for anxiety and depression. We’ll also compare Cerebral with other sites dedicated to mental health support and/or medication.
What is Cerebral, and how can they help with anxiety and depression?
Cerebral is a mental health startup that’s specifically focused on support for anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Its offerings include online visits with a prescribing provider and prescriptions for medication.
The way that Cerebral works is through a subscription model where you pay a flat rate per month for ongoing care. We’ll discuss the cost below, but you pay a lower introductory price and then a monthly subscription On an ongoing basis, you’ll have monthly meetings with your prescribing provider (for medication) and receive your medication which is conveniently shipped to your home if you’re prescribed.
This service is designed to overcome barriers to mental health treatment like fear of judgment and cost. It gives a convenient way for people to get the care they need over the internet at their convenience and through Rx shipments with one flat rate.
Depending on your current experience, it can help you overcome things like in-person counseling visits, trips to the pharmacy, or the avoidance of mental health care. The company notes that “we provide our clients with both evidence-based therapeutic techniques and medication management, as the combination of both types of care has been shown to have the greatest benefits.”
Where (in which states) is Cerebral available?
Cerebral is expanding its operations quickly and is now available in all 50 states! This includes both prescribers and therapists in all 50 states, however, availability will vary by state.
Details on Cerebral's Medication + Care Management
You may be prescribed medication as part of your treatment plan. The site says that it prescribes non-addictive, non-controlled medications such as SSRI and SNRI medications. The medication included in the subscription price is a generic version. You could opt for a brand name medication, but you would pay more than the cost of the subscription. Cerebral notes that if this type of treatment is not enough, its providers may refer you to in-person care for the use of a controlled substance.
The site says that some of its prescribers are licensed therapists but that not all of them are. It says they are all well-trained in therapeutic techniques. It’s unclear exactly what type of care you would be getting, but the site provides examples that include behavioral activation, motivational interviewing, meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and grounding exercises. It also mentions using evidence-based therapeutic techniques.
Are the anxiety medicines prescribed by Cerebral legit?
Mental health issues are pretty complicated, so not every treatment will work for each individual. That being said, SSRI and SNRI meds — the drugs Cerebral may prescribe — have been shown to help people in many clinical trials, and are widely prescribed. So, the medicines that Cerebral may offer you are legitimate depression and other mental health drugs, approved by the FDA.
According to the Mayo Clinic, SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and SSRIs are generally liked because they don’t act much on other neurotransmitters, meaning they are pretty specific in how they act on the brain. Common SSRI drugs include:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
These are real medicines, with possible side effects that include some of the following (and probably others not listed here): Nausea and stomach issues, headache, drowsiness, dry mouth, insomnia, agitation, possible sexual issues, dizziness and more. So you’ll want to let your Cerebral prescribing physician know if you’ve had issues with any of these drugs, and which ones you’ve been prescribed in the past.
Another type of drug that Cerebral may prescribe are SRNIs. Again, there are many generic and brand-name, FDA approved anti depression SRNIs. These act by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain – again, two neurotransmitters. Some SRNIs may also be used to help treat anxiety. Here are some of the better known, FDA approved SRNIs (again, we don’t know which, if any, your Cerebral prescriber will suggest to help you):
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
Since these are legit drugs, there is the possibility of side effects. Some side effects include: nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, headache and sweating. Some patients have also had constipation, tiredness, reduced or challenges in sexual function. Again, be open and honest while working with Cerebral so that they can help you avoid medications that you’ve had problems with in the past, and can direct you to ones that are most likely to help.
Is Cerebral good for therapy?
Cerebral’s specialized therapists use proven psychotherapy techniques, including cognitive behavioral therapy, grief therapy, introspective psychotherapy, and more, to help you with your mental health goals and treat any of the previously mentioned struggles. Cerebral can treat anxiety, insomnia, depression, trauma, and PTSD. In certain states, the platform also offers treatment for ADHD, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependence, and opioid use disorder.
Both of Cerebral’s therapy plans, Therapy and Therapy + Medication, offer weekly virtual therapy sessions, access to a secure messaging platform with your care team, and progress tracking from your therapist.
Another great thing about telehealth therapy is the ability to find a therapist that you match with easily. You don’t have to worry about the location or distance from you, simply if you are finding someone who’s going to make the most positive impact on your mental health journey. Cerebral offers the ability to easily “shop around” in order to find the best therapist for you.