Q.: Doctor, how to bring our patient to you? What if people come to know about our visit to you?

A.: Hiding an illness is not the solution. When the symptoms increase, people do come to know about it. Moreover, by not treating the patient, we directly help increase the problems and the stage of illness. To avoid this, think of giving immediate treatment to the patient instead of fear of stigma. May be, people may come to know that you have started treatment of a psychiatrist, but when they will see that he or she is showing improvement the same people will admire you for your decision. First of all, you yourself try to understand that mental illness is an illness like any other illness and one should not have any inferiority complex for the same. If you feel that people should have a positive attitude in this regard then first you try to be positive about this illness and treatment. It is our experience that those, who come forward for treatment with positive approach, get results fast and moreover, people around them change their attitude.

Q.: You are a psychiatrist. That means a doctor for mad people. Am I a mad person then?

A.: Going mad or showing abnormal behavior is a symptom in a few mental disorders and not all. In many of the mental illnesses, behavior of a patient is generally normal. Now, for example, just peep in the O.P.D. hall. Right now, there are at least 60 to 70 patients. Do you see any mad person there? Not a single, isn`t it? That is exactly I am trying to explain to you. Not all the mental illnesses depict the symptoms of madness. I treat all types of mental disorders and therefore, it is not true to say that a psychiatrist means a doctor for mad patients only. Your behavior is normal but the symptoms due to which you are troubled are pertaining to mental illness. If you take the proper treatment, you would definitely feel better within a period of 3 to 4 weeks. So, try to understand that you are not a mad person, but you are suffering from a mental illness which can be cured.

Q.: When a patient comes to know that he is brought to a psychiatrist for treatment, will there be any adverse effect on the mind of the patient?

A.: Certainly not! I can tell you from my experience of over 3 decades. In the beginning, he or she may have a feeling of fear or inferiority complex, but during the course of treatment, the patient would come to know that mental illness is a kind of illness only and there are treatments for the same. Once this is understood, the patient`s view about the psychiatrist would definitely change and a positive approach about the illness and the treating doctor would be developed.

Q.: My family doctor referred me to you one year back, but I was afraid of coming to you, because I came to know that you give electric shock. Are you going to give me shocks?

A.: Yes. I do give shock treatment, but not to all the patients. In fact, in very few types of mental illnesses, this therapy is administered. Those who have taken this treatment, are benefitted and they feel good about the same while the others are frightened by mere thought of it.

Q.: If there is a mention of mental illness, in the certificate, would it affect my job?

A.: There is a wrong feeling in the minds of almost all, that a mention of mental illness in the medical/fitness certificate would affect the job or further promotion etc. But it is not so. When the certificate clearly states that you are cured and are able to discharge your duties efficiently, then it won’t have any effect on your job or promotion.

Q.: Of late, I have been suffering from loss of appetite, weakness, pain in abdomen. I consulted so many physicians. Even after various tests and prolonged medicinal treatment there was no relief. Doctors then opined that it may be psychological. But, when I do not have any stress or problem at home or at my workplace, how it can be psychological?

A.: If you have any physical symptoms, you need not have any physical problem. Rather, most of time, many physical symptoms occur due mental illness. Statistically speaking in almost 60% of the cases, the reason of physical symptoms is mental illness only and the same can be reduced if properly diagnosed and treated. It is not necessary to be under stress to have any mental illness.

Q.: There is a weight gain due to your medicine. So also, you give slipping pills, due to which, one gets dullness and feels sleepy. One has no alternative but go to sleep. What one should do?

A.: Behind every treatment, there is an intension to cure the disease and increase the efficiency of the patient, to the extent possible. Likewise, in case of treatment on mental illness also, intension is the same. However, in some of the mental disorders, sometimes the side effects such as above do occur. This problem can be overcome by changing the dose or the medicine, if the patient or the relatives bring this to the notice of the treating doctor. In any case, psychiatrists give sleeping pills only, is a gross misconception, which may please be noted.

Q: Patient is not ready to come to your hospital. What to do?

A.: In case of physical illness, the patient himself (or herself) is aware of it and obviously, to get treatment for the same, he or she voluntarily visits the doctor / hospital. But this is not possible in case of mental illness, because, nobody (neither patient nor relatives) is having the knowledge about the real problem. If the patient is brought to the doctor as early as possible, after proper diagnosis and proper treatment, the symptoms can be controlled and then the patient realizes the fact about the illness, the importance of treatment and for further follow up, he comes forward willingly. In a way this is a dilemma. – Due to lack of knowledge, no treatment and for want of treatment no chances of getting knowledge. There are three types of patients.

      1. Patient with fair knowledge of one`s mental illness.
      2. Patient with some knowledge of his mental illness.
      3. Patient absolutely having no knowledge of his mental illness.

      1. Patients of this type can be easily brought to hospital / doctor for treatment, just by removing stigma from their mind.
      2. In the second category, the job is bit difficult. Here, one has to pin point his physical symptoms and then convince him tactfully for the psychiatric treatment. Once the treatment is started and positive results are there, he himself would come for follow up.
      3. Here, both the above formulae are of no use. The patient needs to be brought to the hospital forcibly or else he can be brought by hook or crook with some trick and then start the treatment forcefully.