The Sun never loses it's Light
A brilliant young man was asked by his ailing father to look after his business. In the new regime, the employees were very happy, but the business itself went into debt and shutters had to be pulled down.
The once energetic young man barely had any energy to go out there and live his life. He was overly critical of himself and held himself accountable for the fiasco. He came to see Dr. Dipali Ajinkya and gradually over the course she made him realize that the sun never loses its light, the eclipse passes off eventually, and today he leads a content life eager to take on challenges that it offers.
This is one of many cases that she has dealt with, spanning a career over two decades. Initially, she started as a physician but inspired by her husband she took on psychotherapy. Together the couple has authored a book on their work, link in the footer.
In this interview, she shares actionable on consciously evolving your thought process for the better.
Q: What is paracetamol for mental health?
There are two aspects to looking at mental health remedies. The first is preventive and the second involves undergoing therapy.
Preventive involves relaxation, breathing, or mindfulness exercise and being in the present.
However, if an individual finds it hard to handle his emotions on his own, or if (s)he sees a major change in sleep or behavior and it persists over 2 - 3 weeks, it is about time to see a counselor.
The behavior shift could be anything from getting angry more frequently, crying very quickly, lethargy, marginally reduced toleration capacity, lack of energy for any physical activity, lack of motivation, muttering to self, hallucination, rapid fluctuation of emotions, or questioning your existence.
Q: Most psychosis-related issues are related to the serotonin imbalance in the brain. Tell us about the brain, hormones, and mental health balance?
An activated amygdala suggests emotional imbalance, whereas an active prefrontal cortex suggests a healthier state. While it is difficult to measure the actual hormone levels, the proxy is to get a Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) done to understand the state of the individual. Relaxation exercises and mindfulness helps in building neuroplasticity. For permanent change to occur to your neuronal circuit it takes about 20 mins of exercise at a stretch for a period of 6 - 8 weeks.
Q: Tell us about the state of medication, do we need to take the medications lifelong? What are the side effects of long-term medications, if any?
Medications are usually prescribed when the emotions are not controllable, but for preventive measures, counseling, and cognitive therapies work.
There has been a drastic change in the present-day molecules compared to that of about 15 years back. It is a myth that once you start a medicine you have to keep it forever. The newer molecules have far lesser side effects than their predecessors. Take the case of schizophrenia for instance. A decade ago it would be hard medicines and shock therapy if required. Currently, the doses in the start have to be high, but gradually they are tapered down.
Say if you have diarrhea you can’t keep eating junk food and keep asking for medicine. In case of mental health issues, it is your thoughts, your beliefs, the self-talk, your attitude towards self and surrounding. Thought pattern and belief system needs to be updated.
Q: We are a product of conditioning, initially the surroundings, and then the self. What can be done to rewire that which is redundant and obsolete?
Take an instance of your youtube recommendations. I love old songs, and I keep watching them on youtube. The software knows what I like and shows me accordingly. One fine day, if I decide to feel more energetic and switch my genre. As and when I keep repeating the newer genre, youtube will keep showing me gradually new songs. In the same way, our thought patterns work. We need to identify first what is not helpful and replace it with more helpful thoughts, over a while the brain will adapt.
Q: Tell us a few actionable on updating the conditioning and building newer neural roadmaps in the brain?
When you go to the gym, the instructor first asks you to do cardio to shed off the extra fat and then weight training to tone the muscles. With your mind, identification of harmful thought patterns is cardio, and replacing them with more helpful thoughts is strength training.
Journalling is very helpful when it comes to identifying harmful thought patterns. Journaling is adapting to more positive thoughts, not just logging what happened during the day. Techniques like self-affirmation, or autosuggestion should be used to replace the older patterns with fresh strong thoughts.
There are other techniques like creative visualization to arrive at your desired state, self-hypnosis(ideally under the supervision of an expert) or simple mindfulness is also of help.
Q: Where do you see the state of mental health, challenges, and future?
People are moving out of the stigma that I need help. Corporates are frequently holding workshops for their employees. Govt. has started a toll-free helpline. All of this said those slightly in the older generation are still reluctant to seek help. There is a lack of acceptance of the fact that psychological problems can be treated. More youngsters are actively pursuing a career in psychology. Overall, things are improving.
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