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Mental Health in the News: April 27, 2023

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Mental Health in the News

Nationwide Adderall Shortage Causes Disruptions to ADHD Treatments

Reports of an adderall shortage first surfaced in the summer of 2022, and were confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that October. Being unable to count on their next prescription is causing significant treatment disruptions in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Impact on Patients

Patients prescribed Adderall are having to call several different pharmacies in order to fill their prescriptions — if they are able to find one at all. Even if a patient is able to obtain the Adderall,  they are experiencing high anxiety about being unable to refill it. Many have been rationing the pills or skipping doses so they have a stockpile to fall back on.

Missing doses of Adderall can cause a myriad of negative effects, such as trouble focusing at work/school, lethargy, mood dysregulation, and poor self-control. One parent said they were rationing their sons’ Adderall by giving it to them only on school days and skipping the weekends. As a result, the children cannot participate in activities like sports and Sunday school because their unmedicated behavior is too overwhelming for teachers and coaches to handle. 

Possible Solutions 

Some patients are trying generic brands or alternative stimulant medication to treat their ADHD. But the switch does come with some risks. One patient reported that the generic brand caused her anxiety to skyrocket. Other alternative drugs, such as Zenzedi, come with their own roadblocks, like pharmacies refusing to stock it and insurance companies denying coverage. 

Physicians are concerned about patients buying Adderall illegally on the black market or turning to dangerous self-medicating methods like alcohol and THC. 

Many physicians are advising their patients to build a relationship with a small family-owned pharmacy in their area and call at least a week ahead for a renewal. Healthy alternatives to Adderall include eating better, exercising more, and utilizing medication-free treatments like talk therapy and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

To read the original news article, click here.

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Anxiety Disorders Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Anxiety is a blanket term that covers a wide range of conditions within the mood disorder family. For example, people who have suffered a traumatic event like war or abuse may be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who fear being judged by others may suffer from social phobia. There are also phobias for specific fears, like spiders or heights. If someone regularly feels anxious about life in general, they might have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). These are just a few of the many possible anxiety disorders

When To Get Help For Anxiety

Everyone feels anxious at times; for example, being a hyper-organized person does not mean you have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). But if behaviors such as continuously returning home to check that your doors are locked or your stove is off are interfering with your ability to work or have healthy relationships, it may be time to seek professional help.

Deciding that our mental health is at the point of medical intervention is not always easy. Many cannot objectively distinguish between situational anxiety that will pass and a chronic disorder requiring clinical treatment. One solution is to complete an online anxiety assessment screening from the comfort of your home. A quick Google search will pull up a variety of screening options, most of which take just a few minutes, that can help you decide whether professional treatment is the right choice for you.

To read the original news article, click here.

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BrainsWay Announces Expanded Insurance Coverage of Deep TMS Treatment for Washington State OCD and Depression Patients

Beginning February 3, 2023, a prominent private insurance company in Washington state will extend coverage of BrainsWay’s Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Deep TMS) beyond major depressive disorder (MDD) to include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This additional coverage means that 2.2 million members with OCD will now have access to Deep TMS treatments. The insurer has also lowered the MDD qualifying criteria for TMS to three failed medication trials instead of four; TMS for OCD will also require only three failed trials. 

This change in policy follows last year’s wave of extending coverage for BrainsWay’s Deep TMS by several other major insurance companies. The number of U.S. OCD patients insured for TMS treatments increased from 52.6 million to 90.5 million in 2022 after insurers like Cigna, Highmark BCBS, and Palmetto GBA Medicare opted for expanded coverage. 

“Over the past two years, BrainsWay has seen significant coverage expansion of Deep TMS, including reduced patient selection criteria and earlier access to treatment for both MDD and OCD patients,” said Brainsway’s Director of Market Access Scott Blackman. He added that this has been especially true for patients with Medicare, as Medicare now covers TMS for patients with just one or two failed medication trials.

More About BrainsWay and Deep TMS

BrainsWay is a TMS company committed to leading the world’s development of non-invasive neurostimulation treatments for people with mental health disorders. Their Deep TMS machines are the only TMS machines currently approved by the FDA for treatment of MDD, ODD and smoking addiction. BrainsWay’s patented H-Coil technology penetrates the brain deeper and more broadly than other TMS machines.  

To read the original news article, click here.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.

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