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With the rising awareness among the citizens regarding the importance of mental health, people are exploring various options for mental health treatment in Kolkata. In today’s article, we will explore the various options available and how to go about it.

You can either approach a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Let me explain the basic difference between these two professions. A clinical psychologist is certified to conduct counseling/ psychotherapy sessions and do various psychological assessments like IQ testing, personality testing and so on. A psychiatrist is a doctor, who after MBBS, gets a post – graduation degree (MD) or diploma (DPM) in Psychiatry. Their training involves both the science of psychopharmacology (psychiatric medications) and the art of psychotherapy.

Now that we have covered the basics, we need to understand whom to approach in what situation. Say you are looking for an IQ assessment for your child. That is the domain of a clinical psychologist. But if the child has associated behavioral problems/epilepsy you will need the help of a psychiatrist as well.

The question that troubles most people in Kolkata seeking mental health treatment is the safety and efficacy of psychiatric medications. Understand that any medication working on your body will have multiple effects, some desirable and some undesirable. For example, there are a variety of antidepressants we use. Some have sedative properties, meaning they can make you sleepy. Others have activating properties, meaning they perk you up. Now a patient suffering from insomnia due to depression will obviously benefit from the first category, provided the drug is taken at bedtime and not in the morning. Then it will naturally hamper with your work output. Another depressed person who is lacking in energy and motivation will benefit from the activating category of antidepressant. So, it is always a question of the right medicine in the right dose at the right time. And medications are often indispensable if you are looking for a holistic mental health treatment in Kolkata, or anywhere for that matter. Very rarely can we pull a suicidal patient out of severe depression based solely on talk therapy. The same goes for patients suffering from panic attacks or OCD. The medications keep them alive, healthy and functioning. Even medications for controlling high blood pressure or Diabetes have plenty of adverse effects. Does not mean we will live skip the medicines and live with the disease. The same goes for mental health treatment. Check with your psychiatrist for possible side effects and get your doubts cleared.

Here the question arises, does psychotherapy/ counselling have any role at all? Yes, it does. For an autistic or intellectually challenged child, this is the mainstay of treatment. For other disorders, evidence says two is most often better than one. Meaning, a balanced combination of medications along with psychotherapy is the key to the best mental health treatment. And it is best to let your psychiatrist decide when and how to combine these modalities.

I personally prefer a course of minimal medications at the lowest effective dose along with brief, precise counseling sessions scheduled at strategic intervals. Of course, the strategy differs from patient to patient. If you are considering options for mental health treatment in Kolkata, feel free to post your query on my website and I will be happy to help.