Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Being able to receive depression and anxiety treatment through telehealth has been more than welcome for many. But with so many available platforms, how does Cerebral hold up? Let's review!

 

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By: Chris Riley

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Angel Rivera

Last Updated: June 8th, 2021

 

When anxiety and depression creep into your life, it can be hard to have motivation to find help, or to even know where to look for it. It can affect every aspect of your day, and make everything feel heavy. So, what resources are available?

Energy is already so limited when battling these struggles, and not finding the right resource can set you back even further. Looking for a therapist you click with and sifting through options all while not being in the right headspace to feel capable of making those sort of choices, can feel daunting. 

It all would just be much simpler if you could have a little help — someone taking care of the “managerial” part of taking care of yourself so you can just focus on the healing. Asking for mental health help can already carry so much weight, so it’s important that the process of looking for a resource is as simple and easy as possible. 

There has been an increasing rise of telemedicine availability and accessibility, and luckily, driving across town only to pour out your soul to a therapist who is potentially the wrong fit isn’t the only option anymore. 

There are so many options right at your fingertips for help, so, now the question is, what makes finding help easiest on you? Having direct access to mental health professionals without the hassle, and quite oftentimes impossible task, of an in-person appointment is a huge benefit for many people. 

The major and obvious benefits of direct to consumer health offerings, are that you now have the option of having a therapist help from any area of the country. You are no longer limited by who is closest to you or on your way back from work. 

You have the option of finding the perfect fit, not just the closest fit. 

In addition to this, medication is able to be delivered straight to you, and even for a lower cost than it would be going to the pharmacy.

So, with all this in mind and with a handful of different online mental health providers available, how do you pick?

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

What is Cerebral?

Cerebral is an online care provider that connects you with a therapist and delivers medication straight to your door. In other words, it’s a website providing medication and counseling through a subscription. 

By getting the subscription, you are signing up for scheduled assessments, appointments with your prescribing provider by video or phone, and if you have prescriptions, medication delivery. 

Basically, you pay for one all inclusive, ongoing mental health help subscription, versus doing everything individually and on your own. 

Cerebral Review

Cerebral’s Plan Offerings & Pricing

Cerebral has a leg up on their competition by offering a set of 3 different membership plans, each with different pricing, depending on the service you are looking for. From our findings, this is truly unique in the telehealth arena and one of a few stand out selling points that make Cerebral one of our top telehealth platforms for treating anxiety and depression. Each of these plans are monthly, are FSA/HSA eligible, and you can cancel at any time. Let’s explore the plans and accompanying pricing in more detail below. 

  • Medication & Care Counseling - This monthly plan starts at a discounted rate for your first month at $7/week and includes your initial evaluation with a medical provider, medication (if prescribed), ongoing video and phone sessions with a care counselor, and counseling and process checks. Your price goes to $20/week following your first month.
  • Medication & Therapy - This monthly plan starts at a discounted rate for your first month at $33/week and includes everything in the first plan in addition to the ability to chat with your therapist at any time and weekly check-ins with your therapist. Your price goes to $76/week following your first month.
  • Therapy - This monthly plan starts at a discounted rate for your first month at $23/week and is focused solely on the therapy side of treatment. Plan includes weekly video/phone chats with your therapist, direct messaging with your therapist, and regular process checks. Your price goes to $60/week following your first month.

In addition to these different plans, Cerebral also offers something outside of the norm with telehealth providers by having in-network insurance agreements in which they are also expanding coverage over the next few years. Some of the bigger insurance companies that we found working with Cerebral: Cigna, Anthem, Magellan, and Medicare. This varies by state, but you can find all of this information to review before purchase on their FAQs. From our research and reviews of teleproviders, this is a really nice “have” in a platform. If Cerebral is not in your network, the support team will work with you to try and get reimbursement from your insurance provider. 

Cerebral Get Started Offer

Cerebral Pros

  • You won’t be waitlisted.
  • They are transparent about pricing and it being a subscription based service.
  • Website is easy to navigate and gives a detailed description of how Cerebral works. 
  • A simple and short placement quiz.
  • Extensive and detailed FAQ page on website.
  • Uses all kinds of therapists trained in different areas of expertise, types of therapy techniques, and specialties.  

Cerebral Cons

  • If your therapist leaves Cerebral, you will be assigned a new one. However, one reviewer did note that they didn't have much say in who they got next. In our findings, most reviewers that discussed this topic of therapist change said that in most cases they could change their care team.
  • Prescriptions that you’ve been on won’t automatically transfer to Cerebral. 
  • Users have reported that it’s hard to cancel and often more expensive than getting your prescriptions yourself.

How Can Cerebral Help You With Your Depression, Anxiety, or Insomnia?

Through a subscription-based model, Cerebral is changing the way we approach receiving mental health help. 

There is often a stigma or judgement placed on receiving treatment for depression, anxiety, or insomnia, whether it comes from yourself or others. Though overcoming that stigma is part of healing, the reality is sometimes it does plague you from asking for help. 

So, to have a system that essentially takes care of it for you, so you can just focus on being helped instead of finding help, is hugely beneficial. 

Receiving treatment through Cerebral is ongoing, and there is built-in accountability. Even if your depression or anxiety reaches a point where leaving the house feels impossible, your therapist will still be able to reach you and your medication will still show up at your door. 

The reality of going to in-person therapy or picking up prescriptions at the pharmacy often requires more energy than someone dealing with depression, anxiety, or insomnia has. You want to focus your energy on getting better, not on looking for something to help you get better. 

Maybe you’ve never tried receiving help before, maybe you’ve tried plenty of therapists that don’t work, or maybe you’ve just reached a place in dealing with your mental health where you need a simpler option. 

No matter how you’ve reached the point you're at, Cerebral does scream as an answer for people who need help, but don’t know where to begin. 

When everything else in life is hard, it’s nice to have one thing that makes the harder things a little easier.

Who Can Benefit From Cerebral?

The only requirement for joining Cerebral is to be 18 years old or older and reside in the U.S.. Really though, we can’t see anyone not benefiting from using it. Sometimes when you’re actually in the thick of your depression or anxiety, it’s hard to get into action mode and help yourself out. 

Our experience is that Cerebral is a great tool to be proactive versus reactive towards your mental health. 

If you sign up and simply take the quiz, you’re setting yourself up with a good system so that you’re able to deal with your mental health struggles throughout your daily life, not just when things get bad enough. 

Cerebral is a good fit for those who are dealing with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Other Conditions

Cerebral is not a good fit for those who are:

  • Having suicidal ideation
  • Diagnosed with schizophrenia
  • Pregnant or nursing
  • In immediate crisis

Cerebral Offer

How To Get Started With the Online Quiz

The first thing you do when you get to the Cerebral website is take an online quiz. It takes about 3-4 minutes to complete, and assesses how severely your anxiety and depression is affecting you in your daily life. 

There are around 10 questions that you answer about your life and how your depression and anxiety affect you daily, with one of four options on how to answer: not at all, several days, more than half the days, or nearly everyday

If an online quiz seems like too much to even think about, because, let’s face it, when you’re depressed even the smallest task seems like the biggest, this quiz is very doable. You don’t have to write about yourself or answer in-depth questions; it’s just to get a general idea of how your mental health makes your day to day life a struggle, how much help you need, and how immediately you need it. 

It also asks if there has been a triggering event, and shows the Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8225) halfway through to ensure you know that you have immediate support if needed. 

The end of the quiz gauges your anxiety and depression, and what they recommend you do for treatment depending on how severely yours is scored. Then, after you sign up, you are prompted to schedule a session within a week. 

We found that the quiz itself is noninvasive while still gathering important information about what steps to take next, and truly strikes the right balance of gauging your mental health symptoms but not making it an overly complicated or intrusive first step.

Comparing Cerebral to Other Online Mental Health Services

Our findings show that most online mental health services use a similar template: take an assessment, get assigned a care team within a week-or so, follow your treatment plan until you need something different.

It’s the details that make each service different, but most users do share the general consensus that in-person treatment is the first option, online treatment is the second. It’s not a replacement, but a different way of receiving treatment.

While Cerebral has many benefits unique to itself, it is far from being the only option for online mental health treatment. There are other services that focus more on finding the perfect therapist match versus being an all inclusive alternative for both medication and teletherapy. 

You might want to shop around a little bit before deciding fully on Cerebral. The most important thing to note is that no matter what option you find that suits your specific needs, no option is immediate, and none are for emergencies. 

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of self-harm, calling 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8225), is your first and top priority.

We’ve done the work and compared Cerebral to a few other popular options — here’s what we found in terms of pros, cons, cost, and what they can help with. 

BetterHealth

BetterHealth advertises itself as “therapy from your couch.” We didn’t fully understand what this meant until realizing that they allow you to begin therapy in any way which works for you, whether that’s texting, calling, or over video call.

Can help with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-esteem
  • Relationships
  • Grief
  • Overall mental-health
  • BPD (borderline personality disorder)

Pros: You can do therapy in whichever medium works for you, and can apply for financial aid if unable to make the payment. 

Cons: Some users have not been able to find a time that works with therapists living in other time zones.

Cost: Plans begin at $40/week

Brightside

Brightside is also a medication and therapy subscription service that includes messaging.

Can help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Pros: Unlimited messaging and monthly video call included with subscription.

Cons: Does not take insurance, higher price point.

Cost: Starts at $249/month or $59/session

DoneFirst.com

Done First specifically deals with those with ADHD. It’s website and assessment are similar to Cerebral -- beginning with a short assessment and scheduling an appointment by the end.

Helps with:

  • ADHD

Pros: This is a service that is specifically created for those with ADHD, it’s website is easy to use and it’s assessment is simple.

Cons: They are not transparent about their pricing, and it is unclear what treatment you will actually be receiving as a part of their service. 

Cost: $199 for consultation, diagnosis, and “treatment plan,” $79 monthly afterward.

Where is Cerebral Available?

As Cerebral is a start-up and is continuing to expand their location availability, they are available to you in the comfort of your own home, but not yet available in all states. In order to prescribe medication, the provider has to be licensed in the state of the person they’re prescribing medication to. 

Cerebral is expanding quickly, but is following strict protocol, so state availability is occurring one-by-one. You can find out if Cerebral is available in your state by visiting their FAQ page. From our findings while writing this research article, we noticed that availability does change quite frequently as they rapidly expand, so it is best to check in with the Cerebral website or support team to see if your state is eligible.

More on Medication

Let’s be real, when it comes to mental health, there is no one size fits all approach. Every person is different, every person’s struggle is different, and thus, every treatment is different. 

If medication is something that works for you or if you want to see what you’re a good candidate for, Cerebral does have some options. The service can prescribe many different types of medications for different conditions. SSRIs and SNRIs are two types that are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are medications used to treat depression, and that Cerebral may prescribe. SSRIs boost the neurotransmitter known as serotonin in your brain, helping with your depression. 

There are numerous SSRIs approved by the FDA that Cerebral prescribes. Among the most common are:

  • Celexa
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft

These medications listed are some of the most common, but not the only ones there are. These medications have proven to be successful with many people, but some may have side effects such as nausea, dizziness, dry-mouth, fatigue, agitation, or even sexual problems, to list the most common ones. It’s important to talk to your provider when deciding on the right medication for you.  

More on medication with your Cerebral subscription. All medications are billed separate from the price that you pay for your monthly subscription. Delivery is included and no extra charge, but the actual cost of the medication is outside of the subscription. The good news is that Cerebral does have insurance partners for the medication. Cerebral is also sure to note that though they have many benefits, they will also recommend you for in-person care depending on your specific situation, or should you need a controlled substance monitored. 

Another type of medication that may be prescribed are serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs. SNRIs work similarly to SSRIs, but instead of boosting the serotonin, it boosts two of the neurotransmitters in your brain, known as serotonin and norepinephrine. 

Some typical SNRIs that could potentially be prescribed to you are:

  • Pristiq
  • Cymbalta
  • Fetzima
  • Effexor XR

Again, these are legitimate medications with potential side effects, so it’s important to be as open and honest as you can with your provider if you have had past issues with certain medications, so you can get on one that really works well for you and avoid ones that could potentially cause side effects. 

Lastly, Cerebral is also expanding outside of anxiety and depression into different conditions to treat as well. They now offer treatment plans, including medication, for treatment of ADHD and Insomnia. With how quickly they are expanding, we recommend checking in with the Cerebral support team to see what new conditions are going to be added to the list of available treatment plans. 

Summary

There are so many kinds of online therapy and telemedicine available nowadays, but the thing that sets Cerebral apart is it’s simplistic, all-in-one ability. It does as much of the work possible, organizing appointments, scheduling the first one within seven days, keeping them ongoing and consistent, delivering medication, taking the pressure off of you to do the scheduling and planning so you can focus on just showing up. 

We say go for it, because Cerebral is definitely toward the top of our list!

Sources:

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) | Mayo Clinic

Drugs | FDA

Online depression, anxiety, insomnia treatment and medication delivered to you | Cerebral 

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