Frequently Asked Questions

    In India psychological problems are treated by the following mental health professional Psychiatrist, Psychologists, Psychiatry social workers and councellors.

    A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has done his MBBS training and then specialized in treating people with mental health problem. . Psychiatrists are uniquely qualified to assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological disturbances. Their medical education has given them a full working knowledge of both physical illness and psychological problems. They can treat patients with both medications and psychotherapy (talk therapy). They are able to interpret blood tests and other investigations done by medical doctors

    A psychologist is a mental health professional who has done their graduation in psychology and specialization in clinical psychology ( MPHIL). They are not medical doctors and usually do their graduation (BA) in psychology. They are able to provide various therapies and they are trained to do Certain testing’s like Rorschach, IQ etc. They are not able to prescribe medications and treat physical illnesses.

    A psychiatrist treats various psychological problems like anxiety disorders, depression, phobias, panic disorders, anger issues, alcohol and tobacco dependence, academic issues and various other issues. In fact majority of the problems treated by psychiatrists the patient is in complete control of himself/herself and are holding successful and responsible jobs. The common stereotypical psychiatry patient depicted in movies and in the media form only a very minutepercentage of patients seen by psychiatrists. You can consult a psychiatrist for even minor issues which might be troubling you and get suitable advice

    In India other specialty doctors give medications for psychological problems but please remember that the exposure for psychiatry in MBBS and post graduation is very inadequate in India often the exposure is only 1-2 months during their whole period of specialization. A psychiatrist has a minimum of 2-5 yrs training experience in handling psychological problems before he independently address the patient problems.

    Psychiatrist is the only mental health professionals who can prescribe medications for psychological problems. Not all medications given are life long, in fact majority of the patient treated for psychiatry problems get off their medications in due course of time or are off medications when they are fine. Some patients may have to take medications for considerable period of time and even lifelong but they form a smaller portion of the patients seen by psychiatrists.

    Psychiatrists prescribe a whole range of medications to patients. Please remember majority of the medications given are not addicting and can easily be stopped without the patient feeling the craving for the medication or withdrawal symptoms. The medications which cause addiction belong to a group of medications called benzodiazepine which are used by psychiatrists for treating anxiety problems, disturbed sleep, aggression etc. They must be used continuously only for up to 4 weeks and then tapered off and stopped. Other medications which can cause dependence are certain stimulators used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorders like methyl phenidate etc.

    Remember doctors of other specialty also use benzodiazepines for various conditions and psychological problems you might just not be aware of it.Always ask your doctor if the medications you are receiving can cause dependence it your responsibility to ask as much as the doctors to tell you about dependence potential of medications.

    To answer this commonly asked question we will first have to define what cure means.

    If we use the strictest definition that cure means the patient will not get the illness again in life then most of the illnesses do not have a cure. Eg> diabetes, hypertension, numerous neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis, strokes, motor neuron disease, dementia, etc

    Remember many patients can get an episode of a psychological illness and never get it again if treated promptly and correctly, it just very difficult to predict who would never get it again.

    All medications given in allopathic medicine have side effects similar with psychiatric medication. Psychiatry medication does have side effects but you need not get them. Most of the side effects are minor and will go with time, some medications have more serious side effects like drop in the white cell count ( agranulocytosis), seizures, tardive dyskinesia etc. Your doctor will monitor the side effects carefully when you are on such medications and will give you solutions if you suffer from the side effects.

    The newer psychiatric medications have a very different side effect profile than the older ones and considered to be more safer than the older group. The trick is to give the right medication to the right patient.

    This is a common problem a lot of carers face. They are aware that the patient has a psychological problem but is refusing help. There is no particular way to address the issue and multiple approaches can be used . Some of the ways are

    A) Get the patient to a doctor in context of the problem and defocus from the patients problem eg: marital problem with one partner not seeing his part in the issue get the patient in context of the willing spouse.
    B) Get a person who has some influence on the patient to speak to the patient
    B) Get a person who has some influence on the patient to speak to the patient
    D) Focus on the issue the patient is willing to work and not on the issues he does not want to
    E) Patient feeling he has no problem ,itself can be a symptom of the illness (no insight) so do not spend time trying to convince the patient he has an illness

    The psychiatrist does not need to know about all your childhood issues in the first appointment. He will ask you only questions that are relevant to the current problem in the first appointment. Childhood issues will be discussed only if therapy is advised. The first appointment will take about 25mins t0 half an hour in most cases. He will speak to your family member if available, alone if needed. In case you would like to speak to the psychiatrist alone you can always request for the same. Confidentiality will be maintained.

    There are many kinds of therapies like brief dynamic therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, marital therapy etc. All therapies are good when used by trained therapists.

    Remember for therapies to work the patient must be willing to work through the process and follow the instructions given by the therapist.

    Psychiatrists treat individuals in distress because of various difficulties, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and some types of behavioral problems, such as those involving self-destructive or violent impulses. Students seriously thinking of suicide can be helped. A number of emotional and mental difficulties are influenced by physical conditions; as a physician, a psychiatrist is in a position to take account of such conditions and coordinate overall care.

    Psychiatry staff conduct assessments to determine the best treatment plan and can prescribe medication for psychiatric illnesses and other situations requiring medication intervention. Psychotropic medications are useful and appropriate for some conditions, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, and psychosis. However, they are not necessary in every case. Psychiatrists are trained to deal with the psychological and interpersonal aspects of difficulties, as well as prescription of medication. Often, therapy and/or a change in a life situation is the appropriate intervention.

    • What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
    • How and when do I take it, and when do I stop taking it?
    • What if I miss a dose?
    • What foods, drinks, or other medications should I avoid while taking the prescribed medication?
    • Should it be taken with food or on an empty stomach?