"Mindfulness Has Its Roots in Buddhism." - Dr. Sweta Parikh

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1. Tell us about your background and journey. 

I am a practicing psychiatrist, having my clinic in Ahmedabad. Let me start with my introduction to this field. My father is an Anesthesiologist and since childhood, I have seen him helping, treating lots of people around us. We had lots of people coming over to our house asking for all sorts of medical advice and help. 

This made a huge impact on me, inspiring me to take up something that could help me contribute something to society. I scored well during my schooling, took up MBBS at a reputed college, during which I got exposed to a lot of subjects in medicine. 

2. What led you to take up this career path? 

During my internship, I was extremely fascinated by the psychiatrists. Those were the only doctors I witnessed who listened patiently for hours to the patients. Also, each patient had a different story to tell. This made it interesting, but with that, I also realized the gravity of the sufferings of the mentally ill. 

I was highly motivated to take up Psychiatry for postgraduate. I have been practicing Psychiatry for the last 8 years and the journey has been an extremely fulfilling one so far. Listening to your patients, their caretakers, and finally witnessing their smiles and relief makes the job so satisfying.

3. What are some common myths in society about psychology? 

There are a lot of myths about Psychiatry and mental illnesses in society.
  1. Society sees mentally ill people as mad. They are made fun of instead of getting them treated just like any other medical illness.
  2. Our society doesn't have a clear idea of which symptoms suggest mental illnesses. As they are unable to identify the symptoms, treatment is delayed or not even considered.
  3. Depression is real, it's not a negative way of thinking that can be changed by positive thinking.
  4. Depression, Anxiety, and many other illnesses are not just stress-related. There are biological factors responsible for the occurrence of mental illnesses.
  5. Mental illnesses need lifelong treatment. This is untrue. Only a few of them need longterm treatment, the rest of the illnesses need treatment only for a few months.

4. How can people practice mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is a state of being in the present, focussing on your bodily sensations(activities as minute as your movements of breathing), mind(awareness of the thoughts and emotions attached to them), and the surrounding environment. 

It focuses on the present, and not thinking about the past or the future. It is a state of mind wherein one is supposed to be non-judgemental (no right or wrong) and developing acceptance of thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism.

5. What are your tips for people who want to practice this profession? 

I would encourage anyone with good listening skills, patience, and empathy to take up psychiatry. Psychiatry changes you, your perception of the world, makes you grow and evolve into a better human being. 

All medical professionals are working towards patients' wellbeing, but this field allows you to provide mental relief which is the basic need for all individuals.

6. Is work-life balance a myth or reality according to you? 

Work-life balance is a reality and in today's scenario where the gender inequalities are reducing, the gender-specific roles too are dissolving. There are no boundaries or specificities related to work on a gender basis. The society is still changing, its a process through which we all are passing. 

Its a phase of adjustment between generations, between spouses and within the minds of individuals, leading to mental conflicts, intrapsychic as well as interpsychic. Maintaining this balance needs strong, healthy coping mechanisms. To each his own when it comes to dealing with stress. 

But the most common and effective ways to deal with stress is to keep yourself engaged in the activities that interest you. Interact with your close ones, confide into someone, and share your worries and problems with them. Open up, express yourself, do not hold back.

7. How according to you can one manage stress? 

Spend some quality time, chatting, playing, performing some common activities with your family/ friends, pursuing sports, working out. If these efforts do not work, do not shy away from taking help from a mental health professional, be it a psychologist (counselor) or a psychiatrist.

Do not ignore or belittle the importance of mental health.

- Dr. Sweta Parikh
  IG: drswetaparikh

- Interviewed By: Soumya Jain

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