Whatever is there in front of us now will soon perish and become a thing of the past. Even as we adapt to the present, there are new situations and conditions to be faced the next moment. I mean who can truly say “I was totally free from all tensions at some point of time “ . Our relation to tension or stress has now more or less become like that of human and his shadow . Looking at our daily schedule: Waking up we have tension to reach at workplace on time , reached at workplace, well the tension of work or stress of conflicts with boss and colleagues , tension of the ever increasing competition , and the stress of ever rising prices ; for students the tension of submissions , stress of exams ; for the house wife the stress to run the home in budget and somehow squeeze savings from it and the list never gets an end . Just like our shadows our tensions and stress stay with us from dawn till dusk and sometimes even in our dreams. These all are nothing but the signs of changing lifestyle and the tension which it brings along as a parcel.
“Nothing Is Constant Except Change”. This saying can never have been more apt in any other time except today. In today’s world it is not only important to adapt to changes but to adapt at the pace at which these changes occur. Until and unless one learns to adapt himself to these changes he is more vulnerable to Psychological problems. The increase in the numbers of reports of suicides in India is exponential. The old man hanging himself in the house due to loneliness or the farmers dying due to the draught and debt; situation may be different but the cause of death in both cases being feeling of severe Depression. Looking at the current situation, India is divided into two prominent lifestyles: Rural and Urban. In rural India the things are a bit simple as the people are striving for their daily needs and tend to live with simplicity but in the last decade due to the increasing industrialization and less opportunity for better jobs have increased the patients suffering from STRESS. In urban India the situation is quite complex as compared to rural parts, as there are many factors like status in the society , partying culture, work load , etc. which play a key part in defining the lifestyle of a person . In the race to increase their status in the society people tend to incline towards drinking alcohol, may consume drugs and end up becoming addicts . The ever increasing competition in the multinational companies has lead to progress of the country but has pushed the workers into the darkness of depression and the constant stress to keep, be at the top , I cannot stop myself from recalling the dialogue from the movie 3 idiots “Life is a race if you don’t run fast someone else will thrash you and go ahead” . The rise in consumerism has lead to price hike of many basic necessities causing depressed mindedness to the rural and urban citizens alike. The process of adapting oneself to this ever changing lifestyle is itself quite stressful.
People have started now understanding this and are finding their ways to fight against stress in conventional as well as unconventional ways.
Meditation in the form of Art of living or Vipasyana, Pyramid therapy, Aromatherapy and Music therapy are some of the ways people have chosen to reduce their stress and the laughter clubs and yoga centers have become prominent place in people’s everyday schedule. Some people have opted to go for the spiritual path and have taken shelter under Gurus and Saints, some frequently visit Faith healers and many a times get cheated in the lure of immediate solutions to their stress problems. All of us must be having lots of patients referred by Faith healers too. People are likely to get frustrated by these alternative or complementary therapies as the benefit offered is likely to be short-term in nature like a placebo and there is usually no insight offered into the problems that one is facing. And here, is where we, as Psychiatrists, come into the picture.
So, what role do we have to play then? Even in a country like India, the demands placed on the Psychiatrist go beyond prescribing right drugs in right doses. Many people using the alternate therapies will be having milder problems and the reaction to the suggestion of meeting a psychiatrist is likely to be negative as it is seen as a way for serious problems involving long-term treatment. Therefore, we have to create awareness that the psychiatrist is a friendly person with whom problems can be shared by “talking the things over”. Moreover, majority of the problems coming to our attention arise out of difficulties in interpersonal relationships and these involve the family, school or workplace.
These are amenable to counseling. Counseling is also preferred by persons who are educated, aware, sophisticated and have some definite insight. The psychiatrist also has to do homework and has to give the patients knowledge about the alternate therapies along with prescription of drugs and plan a roadmap for the recovery of the patient.
Sharing with you my personal experience – after suggesting one patient to start light physical exercise and also learn Meditation and do relaxation technique on regular bases apart from counseling and medication, he had very good improvement, and he asked my permission to stay in my waiting room and motivate other patients to be regular in taking treatment and make the appropriate use of alternative therapies. I allowed him and astonishingly after a few days I found out many of my patients in the waiting room had followed his footsteps and had a speedy recovery.
No discussion of the role of Psychiatry can be complete without mention of an omnipresent 24 by 7 entity: Media. Media – print and electronic alike, is an integral part of today’s lifestyle and has a tremendous influence on everything that a person does or thinks. Having Laughter shows daily on electronic media along with the yoga and meditation shows in the morning are proving to be real stress busters for masses. Articles in print media about the increasing level of stress in Indian workers, mental stress in people after natural calamities, interviews of doctors, etc. help the people to identify their problem and offer solution to it. There is no stigma attached to visiting a ‘shrink’ or discussing issues like rehab from drugs in USA. Likewise, we in India have to work towards that time when the role of Psychiatrists will not only be accepted but also be appreciated. I remember a report published in one of the leading news papers of New Delhi, where the Editor discussed a case of Suicide by an old aged man who never consulted a Psychiatrist before as he did not have any such problems due to which his relatives felt a need to consult a Psychiatrist, that was what told by the relatives. Only one matter was found that the old man who committed suicide was remaining disturbed for last couple of weeks after the declarations of price hike, he was constantly thinking about the pace of the change in lifestyle and how his children will face the newer situation. A Psychiatrist was interviewed how this can happen, what reasons can be there, what kind of stress he must have undergone that lead to complete the suicide. Entire matter was published in such a informative way that a lay man can easily make out the earliest signs of increased stress and can start thinking about what to do at the early stage to prevent further serious consequences.
Thus, in present times for proper sustenance of the society it is important for the media and the mental health professional to go hand in hand to reach the masses and make them aware about the increasing levels of stress in society. Hence the theme of this conference is “Media and mental health”. Hope we make most of it.
Dr. Kaushik Ramakant Gupte M.B.B.S., D.P.M.
Clinical Practice For Last 20 Yrs
General Psychiatry and Substance Use Disorders
Attached to multispeciality hospitals of surat-BAPS Swaminarayan hospital and Mahaveer Hospital as Hon.Psychiatrist.
Attached to Shree Sardar Smarak Hospital-Bardoli as visiting psychiatrist and running Taluka Mental Health Program of Govt. Of Gujarat
Past president – IPS, Gujarat State Branch
Past Secretary, IPS, Western Zonal Branch
Contact: “Manoshanti”, 202 & 203, Prime Chambers,
Opp. S. B. I. Nanpura, Surat