In this article, we will review Brightside and their offerings for managing anxiety and depression. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or are having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to a local ER right away.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, you’re not alone. People of all ages — 264 million according to the World Health Organization (WHO) — currently have been diagnosed, with too many cases going untreated. Unfortunately, thanks largely to the COVID-19 pandemic, things are getting worse; a recent study from the CDC indicates that anxiety is skyrocketing among young adults in 2020, with over 60% of a sample of 5,400+ reporting symptoms during the global pandemic. Social isolation, economic uncertainty, and too much screen time, as it turns out, are putting a strain on mental health.
What makes anxiety and depression particularly challenging to treat, however, is social stigma. It’s estimated that less than 50% of those who need care get it due to fear of what others might think. Moreover, less than half of those who do receive care get it at levels consistent with clinical standards. If you have a busy work schedule or raising a family, finding time and high out of pocket costs present significant barriers. Really, there’s almost always an excuse not to seek a psychiatrist…
And, making matters worse, it seems like the US healthcare system wasn’t even designed to treat people with anxiety and depression. There are only 15 psychiatrists and 30 psychologists for every 100,000 Americans – and it’s even worse in some areas. So finding someone to help you overcome anxiety and depression can be a major challenge.
While it’s a shame not everyone is able to access effective care from trained healthcare providers with accurate assessment tools, there’s reason to believe that may be changing for the better. A new wave of telehealth startups is focused on eliminating the barriers to care for anxiety and depression, all for an affordable price. Brightside is among the most promising mental health treatment startups we’ve seen, and in this article we’ll review their approach designed to help you determine whether you need therapy, medication, or both.
But before we get too deep into Brightside’s offering, let’s take a moment to review common causes of anxiety and depression, how you know it may be time to seek treatment, and what steps to take to find the best care. If you’re short on time, skip ahead to our head to head comparison chart.
What are depression and anxiety?
The key symptoms of depression are low interest, hopelessness, fatigue, poor appetite, and difficulty concentrating. Anxiety and depression are related, but anxiety is often defined as the inability to control excessive worry about multiple issues, individuals, and events. Similar to depression, other symptoms can include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, trouble sleeping, and chronic irritability. We’ll discuss in more detail later how Brightside’s online assessment tools help you diagnose these issues.
Depression and Anxiety: How do you know if you should seek professional help?
Now that we have laid out what symptoms to look for in anxiety and depression, it’s time to understand how to get a proper medical diagnosis. When symptoms start to interfere with your ability to work or practice self-care, or important relationships in your life, it’s time to consider speaking with a professional. If you’re unsure how severe your symptoms are, taking a clinically validated screening tool is a useful way to score them. You can find these for free online—including the free assessment Brightside offers. But take action! You deserve to feel better and feel like yourself. Inertia won’t solve anything.
How do you get diagnosed for anxiety and depression?
Anxiety and depression are diagnosed by a doctor looking for the presence of signs and symptoms associated with anxiety and depression, including the mix and severity of symptoms, context, duration, and life impact. The doctor will also want to know about your medical history and family history, as well as current medications you are taking. A brief visit is usually enough to diagnose your anxiety and/or depression and determine a treatment plan.
Treatment: How are anxiety and depression typically treated?
According to the Mayo Clinic, medication can be an effective part of a treatment plan for anxiety and depression.. The types of medications that are normally prescribed within the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) category. Common examples include:
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin), which are all medications which can be prescribed by Brightside doctors after they review your health situation.
In addition to antidepressants, therapy can give you the structure and support needed to push through difficult times by providing time and space to reflect, process challenges, and build coping skills.
It’s worth mentioning that there are also natural treatments for depression. Taking small steps such as ensuring you are getting enough sleep, eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, and exercising regularly can yield large improvements, but these are typically not enough on their own to treat chronic anxiety or depression.
One of the best parts about Brightside is their commitment to an approach that addresses the biological, psychological, and social components of depression and anxiety. That means a combination of medication, therapy, and self-care all available on one platform. Let’s dive into Brightside’s platform to see how it helps thousands of patients improve their mental health.
What online treatments does Brightside offer for anxiety and depression?
Hopefully by now it’s clear that Brightside offers a few ways to help you cope. With their ultimate mission of illuminating “a clear path back to being you”, they have three broad treatment plans: medication, therapy or both.
It’s worth noting that Brightside’s doctors only prescribe medication when clinically appropriate and never prescribe controlled substances like benzodiazepines or stimulants. Naturally they need to first review your case prior to prescribing anything. Here are many, but not all, of the medications Brightside doctors commonly prescribe for anxiety and depression, depending on your individual symptoms, medical history, and lifestyle:
- Amitriptyline / Elavil
- Aripiprazole / Abilify
- Benztropine / Cogentin
- Bupropion / Wellbutrin
- Buspirone / Buspar
- Citalopram / Celexa
- Clomipramine / Anafranil
- Clonidine / Catapres
- Duloxetine / Cymbalta
- Escitalopram / Lexapro
- Fluoxetine / Prozac
- Gabapentin / Neurontin
- Hydroxyzine / Vistaril
- Lamotrigine / Lamictal
- Mirtazapine / Remeron
- Nortriptyline / Pamelor
- Paroxetine / Paxil
- Propranolol / Inderal
- Quetiapine / Seroquel
- Sertraline / Zoloft
- Topiramate / Topamax
- Trazodone / Desyrel
- Venlafaxine / Effexor
Review of Brightside for Anxiety and Depression: What treatments do they offer?
Medication + Therapy
|Description||The right medication, to get back to being you. Finding the right medication match makes all the difference. So we prescribe differently. Then deliver it to your door.||Your Therapist, in your pocket. Plus the custom-built plan that’s clinically proven to support a clear path back to being you.||The most effective path back to being you. FDA-approved medication and evidence-based therapy, guided by a dedicated doctor and therapist every step of the way.|
With Brightside, you’ll first take a free assessment. They’ll use the results to recommend a course of treatment based on the clinical guidelines outlined by the American Psychiatric Association. From there, once you choose a course of treatment — medication, therapy, or both! — you’ll then schedule a virtual evaluation with one of Brightside’s doctors to determine details like dosage, matching you with a therapist, etc.
What Rx Medications does Brightside Prescribe?
By choosing the medication option, you will receive a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis from a Brightside doctor. This is completed through a telemedicine visit, so you do not need to leave your couch, deal with any scheduling difficulties, sit in a waiting room, etc. In this evaluation you’ll share how you’re feeling and your symptoms with a doctor licensed in your state. Then decide on your next best steps together. Once this is complete, they will personalize your medication so that it works best for you, picking from many different, FDA-approved meds.
Your Brightside doctor will combine their expertise with an in-house software tool that evaluates more than 100 unique data points about you and compares it against a huge amount of research around antidepressants to pick from over 30 different medications.
In addition to having your prescription shipped to you every month, you will also have ongoing support from your doctor whenever you need to check in via unlimited messaging or video follow ups. Brightside says that they will check in six times more often than a traditional / primary care doctor. And, because Brightside uses technology to help make treatment better, they have a science-based symptom checker called Your Path™. With YourPath, you’ll regularly report your symptoms, and your doctor can use these measurements to proactively make recommendations to make sure your treatment is just right. It includes unlimited messaging and video follow ups as needed!
With Brightside’s therapy, you will have access to unlimited messaging with a therapist with at least one guaranteed response every weekday. Brightside’s therapists are background checked, hold master’s degrees or higher and are licensed in your state. You will also receive interactive lessons to help you build skills on your own time, and help you on your path toward feeling better.
Brightside therapists use clinically proven approaches to help you learn new habits to break the exhausting cycle of depression and anxiety. Here’s how it works:
How does Brightside’s Therapy work?
- You’ll connect with your licensed Brightside therapist, who will be an anxiety and depression specialist for expert-level empathy, guidance and insights.
- The therapist will help you build the skills that’ll help you feel better using evidence-based approaches such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and interactive lessons.
- These lessons will help you apply what you learn in your sessions, because getting back to being you takes practice.
- You and your therapist will see and monitor your progress with Your Path™, their science-based symptom tracker that helps you communicate with your Brightside treatment team.
Medication + Therapy
The combination of medication and therapy should provide you with the best outcomes, and the company says that medication and therapy combined offer up to a 60% better chance of recovery vs one treatment alone. A doctor and therapist will be part of your personal care team, working together to create an evidence-based treatment plan just for you.
And if you sign up today, Brightside is offering $50 off your first month for a limited time, or if you choose the bundled Medication + Therapy you can get $100 off your first month. If at any point you are not satisfied with your Brightside treatment, you have the option of cancelling anytime. Plus, the company offers a 30-day, money back guarantee. Visit Brightside.com now to get started.
How to get started with Brightside
To figure out what will work best for you — medication, therapy, or both — Brightside requires a 3-step process.
Step 1: Free Assessment
Your first step is to complete a free 26-question assessment to help Brightside physicians better understand your symptoms and provide them with the information they’ll need to thoroughly evaluate your situation. They’ll ask you questions about how often you are experiencing symptoms like fatigue, difficulty motivating, and more. While this is a clinically-validated assessment, it’s also a very easy and simple question flow – you don’t have to worry or get stressed about starting it. They clearly understand how anxiety and depression can make someone feel overwhelmed, and have created a flow that is not at all intimidating.
Step 2: Connect with your Brightside care team
Next you’ll get matched with an expert doctor for a comprehensive video consultation where you’ll share how you’re feeling, then decide on the best next steps — together. In this consultation you and your Doctor will review your situation, discuss your care plan, and answer any questions you may have. If you choose therapy, you’ll be matched with a licensed therapist who will listen, understand your needs, and provide supportive guidance to help you build skills and feel better.
Step 3: Follow your care plan
If the doctor chooses to prescribe, your medication will be delivered to your door (approximately 4-5 business days after your consultation) and refills authorized by your physician will arrive monthly. If you choose therapy you’ll have access to unlimited messaging and interactive skill-building lessons.
Finally, you will begin your treatment and hopefully start to make progress. You will have the opportunity to report back to your doctor on what’s working and what’s not so that they can adjust your medication and therapy as necessary.
While you are completing the assessment, Brightside also wants to ensure that you are getting immediate care if necessary and makes crisis resources available. They have 4 options if you are in distress or crisis right now:
- Visit: If you are having a medical or mental health emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency department.
- Text: The Crisis Text Line provides 24 hour free and confidential help. Text ‘HOME’ to 741-741 to connect with a counselor immediately.
- Call: You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK to talk with a live counselor 24 hours per day.
- Video: Each Brightisde Therapy plan includes 4 virtual therapy sessions per month.
Are there any risks or side effects from Brightside’s medication for anxiety and depression?
While very common in use, antidepressants do not come without side effects. Side effects usually occur during the first few weeks of treatment and are less common later on. Side effects also depend somewhat on the drug, the dose used, and the individual. While everyone experiences side effects differently, some common side effects include insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, nausea, or diarrhea, according to Harvard Health. It’s important to bring up side effects with your doctor so they can make adjustments.
A more serious, albeit rare, potential problem is reduced blood clotting capacity which can leave patients with a slightly increased risk for internal bleeding, especially if they are also taking aspirin or ibuprofen.
Brightside also shares a disclaimer that starting antidepressants can sometimes lead to a short-term increase in suicidal thoughts among people who already have them, especially those ages 24 or younger. However, at that time they stress that you stay in close communication with your doctor and reach out for help if your symptoms continue or worsen. Again you’ll want to work closely with the doctor they assign to you to help them understand how you are reacting to the meds.
Does Brightside accept insurance?
Yes! Brightside recently started accepting Cigna across the nation, Blue Cross Blue Shield in some larger markets, as well as Anthem, Humana, MHN, & Magellan in select markets as well. So depending on your provider and coverage, there’s a chance you’re covered.
Brightside Depression Reviews: What are customers saying?
Most Brightside patients found the service very effective, enjoyed the convenience and appreciated the weekly check ups. The company says that within just 12 weeks of starting treatment, 83% of Brightside members begin feeling better with a clinically significant reduction in symptoms and 60% achieve remission level symptoms.
However, for some it was too much of a financial burden that’s unsustainable, even though it’s typically much cheaper than going the traditional route of in-person therapy and medical visits.
Additionally, for some it felt too automated and did not provide a personable feel that most users were looking for with their therapists. The good news is that the company is listening to these reviews, and has added 4 video therapy sessions per month for each subscriber.
The Verdict: Why trust Brightside with your mental health?
Brightside is a convenient and thorough one-stop shop for anyone seeking treatment for anxiety or depression. They’ll match you with a real doctor who will make sure you feel heard and understood, get you the right treatment, and ensure you are receiving the best care. The system is designed to be as stress-free as possible, and the onboarding process is a breeze.
Brightside doctors and therapist are anxiety and depression experts who are licensed in your state and background checked. They use an innovative software tool that reviews over 100 data points and clinical trial data to narrow in on the right FDA-approved medication for your specific situation. While you are taking the medication, your doctor will monitor your symptoms and side effects to ensure you are on the right track. Finally, your doctor will adjust your dose to make sure it’s just right for you.
Additionally, Brightside will not force RX meds upon you if that’s not what’s best for your circumstances. Antidepressants and other prescription treatments can be helpful for people with serious symptoms, but they will recommend other care if telemedicine is not the right treatment for your individual situation.
With a 30 day money-back guarantee (not including medication already delivered or fees paid to your insurance provider), you might as well sign up and decide if it’s right for you over the next month.
Ultimately, you deserve to feel better. Brightside has put in a ton of effort to make it easy to find quality care. With a 30-day money back guarantee, it seems worth trying, and their customer reviews seem very promising. Visit their site now to see if their platform resonates with you, and let us know about your experience in the comments below.
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