With everything that is going around the world, mostly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the lockdown, it is of utmost importance to take care of our mental health.
Therefore, I asked my audience to jot down their queries related to mental health and a well known psychiatrist, Dr. Rahul Khemani will be answering those.
Talking about Dr. Khemani, he is a Consultant Psychiatrist practicing for 4 years, very friendly and a humble doctor who is still consulting his patients even in this lockdown.
So, here I am with an interview with Dr. Khemani:
Q. Other than listening, what are some other ways one can do for someone is going through depression?
"Show up for them. When you ask them what you can do to help you, make sure you actually do it. Don’t be judgmental and keep from shaming them. Don’t give them advice or suggestions. And direct them towards a mental health professional whenever possible."
Q. How to ask parents (senior citizens) not to worry about pandemic situation? They always are in stress, which can hamper their health?
"The pandemic is a situation when everyone is worried. Whenever possible, try to soothe their worries. Engage in conversations with them about what exactly it is they are worried about. Give them proper, useful and authentic information about the virus and the precautions we need to take. They might keep bringing up the same anxieties again and again, but be patient when trying to talk to them. Keep sharing information not only about the virus and deaths, but also about recoveries, and attempts to discover medications and vaccines. While we convince them to take care of themselves, we also need to keep them hopeful about the future"
Q. Working from home has its advantages, however one can’t keep mind away from household activities, issues tension, which are less felt when at office. Any suggestions?
"I think it is very obvious that this is bound to happen. We have to remember that we are bringing work into our homes. It is bound to create some kind of distractions. It is perfectly okay to be preoccupied with things that are in your background. Consider a mother who is also working from home- she has to not only cook and look after house chores, but also keep her kids occupied with work so that they don’t go interrupting their father in the other room. Give yourself a break and accept that things are not going to be perfect for a while. Ask time off from work if possible. Let others take some responsibility. And try to make some space for yourself whether it is the morning tea or a bath at night. And while you do that, try to be mindful of it, keep away from the thoughts of the day."
Q. Difference between sadness & depression / Anxiety & Stress / Mental health & Mental illness.
"This is a common confusion among so many of us. How do you know it is not sadness but depression? Sadness is a normal human emotion. We all experience numerous times in our lives. Our exams don’t go well, we have a fight with our sibling, we lose our phone- these reasons are obvious to make us feel sad. But as days go by, we get over the sadness. The pain of failing in a test fades away. But with depression is sadness is pervasive. And in addition to sadness, you also experience hopelessness and helplessness. You feel tired and exhausted. It makes you question your worth. Your sleep is disturbed and there is a drop in your appetite.
Stress on the other hand is emotional or physical tension. Your body also reacts to stress as a response to a challenge or a demand. Anxiety is feeling fearful or apprehensive about the future. Your anxiety could be a result of stressful situation. In optimal amount, anxiety or stress can be beneficial. It motivates you to prepare, to act. When it becomes overwhelming is when it can be disabling.
Mental health can be thought of as physical health. Mental health is about mental well-being. It includes our emotions, thoughts and behavior. But it also includes our ability to live up to our potential, to be the best version of ourselves. On the other hand, mental illness includes a range of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and so on."
Q. Is there any diet plan to keep your mental health good/ how to stay positive in lockdown?
"There is no separate ‘diet’ to keep your mental health in check like how we have for people with diabetes. But in general, eating healthy that includes proteins, fibers and low carbohydrate food is beneficial. Keeping away from sugar and junk food is recommended too.
The diet I would prescribe would also include self-care. Figure out what works for you, and if it works then keep doing it. Self-care is not pampering your body by going to spa or something. It about pampering your mind. Some do meditation. Some sit with a cup of tea, and read a book. Some sleep. The key is to do it consistently. Everyday make time for yourself. Keep away from the phone for at least half hour. I would recommend that people keep a Cheer Folder on their phone/laptops. Put those dog or cat videos, your old photos with friends/family, put some poems into it, or even some books. And whenever you feel a bit low, take a look at that folder. But most importantly, know that it is absolutely okay to be not okay at times. To expect from yourself to be happy and jolly every minute of the day is a bit unrealistic. You are human, and you are allowed to feel sad."
Q. How to be stress free except yoga?
"Recognise, Label, Challenge, Reject (RLCR) is perhaps the most useful technique to combat stress. Recognise the cognitive errors when you are worrying. This make take some time, but when you feel stressing out ask yourself if you are getting caught in any unhealthy thought patterns. Mentally label the negative emotion (or cognitive distortion). This simple act can reduce rumination. Once you label your negative emotions, thoughts and distortions, challenge them. Ask yourself if this is an opinion or a fact. Are you making a catastrophic prediction based on inadequate information? Is this type of thinking going to help you or harm you? Reject those negative thoughts. We have around 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts in a day, and it’s fair to assume not all of them are healthy. So after challenging negative thoughts, you need to reject them."
Q. I always try to focus on my goals and start to working on it....but my mind is so unsteady so I quit trying... Is there any way to be focused on my goals?
"Our mind is a monkey mind. We try tire easily and we give up easily with slightest challenge. So when this happens, remind yourself why you are doing it. Make a list of your goals and put it somewhere you can see it every day. Break the goals in short term goals- so acing a test can be broken up in shorter chapters that you would want to complete. When you sit down to work try to stimulate your brain by activities such as drawing with your non-dominant hand or solving a puzzle or coloring a mandala. This will help you calm your mind in case it becomes anxious. Whenever we notice that our mind is wandering when we work, take deep breath, focus on inhaling and exhaling and bring back your attention to the task at hand."
Q.Is Sushant Singh Rajput’s suicide making people think that they are in depression too?
"It is possible, yes. But understand that everyone’s life has a different trajectory or course. Your life cannot be compared with anyone because that would be unfair to you. We don’t really know the private lives of celebrities or even someone in our circles.
If a news like this is triggering you, limit your consumption of it. And at the outset, talk to a mental health professional about it."
Q. Is getting suicidal thoughts normal?
"It definitely needs to be taken seriously. We are given a life, and to think of ending it is a cause for concern. The seriousness will also depend on how often you think of it, of how much you have planned. If you are having suicidal thoughts, then please talk to a psychiatrist at once. If you know someone who is talking about dying and planning to harm themselves then direct them towards a mental health professional."
I would like to thank Dr. Rahul for managing time from his busy schedule and answering the queries.
You can also follow Dr. Rahul Khemani on his Instagram Handle: Psychiatrist Speaks.
Do visit and follow his page, I assure you will feel a lot positive, which is very important at this stage of lockdown.