Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Q. What are the common psychiatric/behavioral problems?
Common psychiatric problems among adults are depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, drug addiction, acute and post-traumatic stress disorder, somatoform disorders, schizophrenia, psychosexual disorders etc. Common psychological problems among children are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, mental retardation, conduct disorder, pervasive developmental disorder etc. In addition, children and adolescents can suffer from almost all the psychological problems adults suffer.

Q. What is the prevalence of various psychiatric disorders in general population?
The life time prevalence of depression in general population is 10 to 12%. The same for bipolar disorder is 3 to 5%, anxiety disorder is 17%, schizophrenia is 1% and alcohol dependence is 10%.

Q. What are the common symptoms of depression?
Common symptoms of depression are low mood, lack of enjoyment, lack of energy, decreased sleep and appetite (may be increased in few), ideas of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, death wishes and suicidal ideas.

Q. What are the common symptoms of anxiety disorders?
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders are anxiety or worry about trivial day to day matters which shouldn't produce anxiety and worry in a normal person along with symptoms like palpitation, dryness of mouth, breathlessness, dizziness, sweating etc. for which no general medical cause can be found.

Q. When one should be regarded as addicted to alcohol/drugs and should be treated?
use of alcohol is socially and culturally accepted in various countries in the world. So, to say a person is addicted to alcohol, there has to be evidence of regular and excessive use along with evidence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms on stopping the use. Usually, when a person is addicted to alcohol or other substances of abuse, it hampers his/her social and occupational life.

Q. What are the common symptoms of schizophrenia?
Common symptoms of schizophrenia are suspiciousness, hearing voices without any external source, poor personal hygiene, irregular sleep and appetite, social withdrawal etc.

Q. What are the various methods of treatment?
Treatment strategies are of two types – biological and psychological. Among the biological therapies, the mainstay is pharmacotherapy. Other less used biological therapies are electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, deep brain stimulation etc. Psychological therapies consist of various types of psychotherapies and counseling.

Q. When one should seek professional help?
Professional opinion should be sought if the patient thinks that he can no longer cope with his psychological problems. In many cases of psychiatric problems, the patient doesn't have insight to his problem and doesn't want to consult a psychiatrist or psychologist. In that case, the family members should seek personal help when they feel that the symptoms are severe enough to treat and hampers the social and occupational life of the patient.

Q. How long one has to be treated?
It varies according to diagnosis. Most of the psychiatric problems are to be treated for a minimum period of 6 months to 1 year. In many cases the treatment may be prolonged/ lifetime.

Q. Are the drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders habit forming?
Most of the psychotropic drugs are not habit forming, but few are (e.g., benzodiazepines) - with judicious use of drugs, even those drugs shouldn't cause problem.