For students looking to pursue a career in Psychiatry
Have you ever wondered why people think the way they think? Or what drives people to behave in a particular way? Why is it that adversity causes some people to be demotivated and pessimistic; while the same events may propel someone else to achieve great success?
We are all often intrigued by such questions that stem from the complexities of the human mind and psyche. When I was asked to pen down my thoughts on psychiatry, I was quite unsure of where to begin! As a psychiatrist (mental health professional) we deal with almost every aspect of human interaction- be it in the family, workplace, school or a social group. Psychiatry is no longer stigmatized as “Pagalo ke doctor”, but has grown to address various issues such as personality development, stress management, career guidance, relationship issues, and much more. Good mental health is an integral part of a person’s health. As defined by the WHO (World Health Organisation), good health is a combination of physical, mental as well as social well-being. Psychiatry has helped so many people improve their mental health to achieve their full potential.
During my time as a psychiatrist in London, UK, I was amazed to see people embrace mental health issues without any stigma! And with increasing awareness, this positive change is happening in India too! More and more people opt to talk about their feelings and seek professional help rather than suffer in silence.
To understand what Psychiatry is, let us first understand the human mind. When I say “Mind”, what is it that you think of?
Is it this brown coloured symmetrical wrinkly organ in the body? But this is actually the human “Brain”. The Brain and Mind are completely different things!
Brain is the concrete structural organ in the human body- what we call “Dimaag” in Hindi. The study of the brain is Neurology.
The “Mind”, however, is an abstract concept- the seat of all human emotions, reasoning, cognition and behaviour. It is what we call “Mann” and hence, the Hindi word for Psychiatry- “Manochikitsa”. Psychiatry is the study of the ‘Mind’.
Now I’m sure, you all must be wondering what is it that a career in psychiatry entails! As you all are aware, psychiatry deals with common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, grief, insomnia using counselling, therapy and/or medicines if required. It also includes helping children who are hyperactive or have difficulty concentrating at school. It deals with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient). Students preparing for competitive examinations often find themselves stressed for time and effort- psychiatrists provide professional help for time and stress management skills. If we look at corporate psychiatry, it deals with improving communication skills and leadership skills among high functioning individuals and professionals to give them that extra edge. Addressing relationship issues and marital counselling is an integral part of psychiatry. Hormonal changes leading to emotional difficulties during pregnancy and childbirth can also be addressed by mental health professionals. Forgetfulness, change in behaviour in old age are under the purview of psychiatry. It can be noted that psychiatry touches upon almost every aspect of human life!
When we speak of mental healthcare professionals, it includes both psychologists and psychiatrists. You could choose either of the career path depending on your interest. To be a psychologist, one would have to complete the 10+2 examinations, then opt for BA psychology course, optionally followed by a Masters and a PhD. To be a psychiatrist, one would need to complete 10+2 examinations and pursue MBBS, followed by MD Psychiatry.
During my MBBS internship, I realized that in any other field of medicine, when I treat a patient, I alleviate the suffering of that one person. But as a psychiatrist, when I treat a patient, I am helping the entire family! And this is what makes psychiatry a very fulfilling career choice!
I hope that more people choose psychiatry as their career path- it will surely help make the world a happier place!
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