“The work of a psychologist is underrated even today,” says psychologist, Kruppa Savla.

There’s a lot of stigma surrounding mental health and individuals suffering from mental disorders in our society and those with sensitive and fragile minds are shunned by society. Kruppa Savla, a psychologist from Mumbai has been striving to change this view. She is of the view that “although tremendous improvements have occurred in the field, there is still a long way to go to raise awareness among the people” and offers therapy and counselling for mental well-being.

When it comes to Indian children, their lives and careers have almost always been decided by the parents. Kruppa’s father also insisted that she pursue interior designing after she passed higher secondary. For a short period, she pursued her father’s career choice but soon realised, Interior Designing was not meant for her. She then decided to specialize in psychology.

Savla pursued her undergraduate degree in Psychology from K.C College. The primary motivation for this, she shared with us, being her special elder brother. She visited his school for special children and did workshops with them frequently and saw for herself, how psychology can make a difference in people’s lives. Savla believes that “the work of a psychologist is underrated even today,” and this field has come a long way since then but it still has a long way to go.

Kruppa Savla is a psychotherapist. However, many people mix psychotherapists with psychiatrists but she distinguishes between the two, saying, “A psychologist can only diagnose the problem in long sessions but they cannot prescribe any medications for it. A psychiatrist, however, can give a prescription for the problem diagnosed.”

The field of Psychology has started getting the recognition it deserves, but there was a time when there weren’t enough colleges in India which provided the necessary certifications to become a licensed practitioner. Savla had to struggle a lot since psychology wasn’t an upcoming career at that time, and it wasn’t believed to be a well enough option for a career choice.  But now the scenario has completely changed.

Today, it has become a lucrative field attracting the youth, similar to how law, mass communication etc. has become a popular choice of further studies to pursue after 12th. However, Kruppa says, “Students shouldn’t pursue the career based on its popularity factor but they should rather have a genuine interest in it, and a passion to help people.”

There remains a backward belief quite prevalent in our society, that only people who have mental deformities go to psychologists. Savla dismisses this notion completely. Anybody can be facing a mental health crisis in their day to day lives and more so in these tumultuous times.

Savla has to face challenges even at her practice, when certain people do not understand the importance of mental well-being and instead, belittles the profession. “People still don’t realise the amount of work that needs to be done before the start of a therapy session. One can’t expect concrete solutions to their problems without simply realising that the role of a psychologist is similar to that of a teacher”, the therapist points out. Both of these professions can only show you the path but you have to walk and achieve the result on your own.
A therapist can recommend a roadmap and techniques to solve the problem, but you have to apply those correctly and process your thoughts to find a solution which best fits you.

During the lockdown, Kruppa faced a tense situation in her own life during which she voluntarily paused her practise for a few months to look after her well-being. “It is essential for a mental health professional to also keep their mental health in check while treating a patient. Since, a professional might project their issues and anxieties onto their patient, which could worsen the situation,” explains Savla

The most common misconception regarding psychologists is that many often confuse them with psychics. Some are considerably delusional and unsure about the nature of work a psychologist does. Kruppa shares, “Some even go so far to say that psychologists have telepathic powers which help them read the minds of their patients and to sort out their problems, which is false.” The notion of a psychologist being a psychic is not only laughable in itself but somewhat insults the profession as well.

As shared by psychologist Kruppa Savla, the work of a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist is not as easy breezy as one might think it to be. There are innumerable challenges they overcome and help others overcome theirs.

As we wrap up, we ask, how do we as laymen, help someone at all? She lets us in on a sure shot tip on that as well.

“Simple acts of kindness can brighten someone’s day so that no one is left feeling trapped under the pressures of hopelessness. In these uncertain times, when so many people are facing mental health issues due to the pessimism created by this ongoing pandemic, just checking in to see if a friend or loved one is doing well, can make a lot of difference in their lives.”




Anxiety and How to Cope with It

We have all experienced the nervousness and anxiety set in just before an exam, a big presentation, moving to a new place or going for a job interview. The butterflies that start building up in your stomach, the sweaty palms and the constant fidgeting that doesn’t end till the task at hand are done. These are the common and not so severe signs of anxiety.

It’s normal to feel anxious in stressful situations, but in the case of an anxiety disorder, that feeling of fear may constantly be with you. The increasing intensity of fear that becomes bothersome to the point that it hinders your communication and cognitive skills in any situation is worrisome.

Psychiatrist Dr Naazneen Ladak was kind enough to enlighten us on the topic of anxiety on Monday in an interactive zoom session hosted by Bhoomi Asher, a content writer at The Unfiltered Journal.

In her many years of experience, Dr Ladak has dealt with many patients suffering from mental disorders and has helped them throughout their visits to her. “Anxiety is definitely something that comes under the mental health umbrella as it is also associated with disorders like depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Various situations can trigger an anxiety attack like insecurities and uncertainties, anticipation, and even phobias like a fear of heights or closed spaces could lead to an attack.” Dr Ladak suggests maintaining a journal if you suffer from anxiety and documenting every time you have an attack.

While speaking of triggers, Dr Ladak says triggers can steam from anything, a dreaded meeting, a tough examination and most often it steams from phobias. One can’t know when something might trigger an attack but they can calm themselves or others by way of distraction techniques.

Anxiety is usually categorized with panic attacks. However, it is not the same thing. Panic attacks can occur suddenly without an obvious trigger. Some of the symptoms include a racing or pounding heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath and sweating. An anxiety attack, on the other hand, follows a buildup of excessive worry. Symptoms may be more intense over the next few minutes or hours, although it may be less intense than a panic attack. Rapid heart rate, restlessness, fatigue, dizziness and constant fear are some of the many symptoms of an anxiety attack.

In a country like India, the topic of mental health is always kept hush-hush due to the lack of awareness about it. There has always been a big stigma around people suffering from mental illnesses. The longer you wait, the more feelings are pent up eventually leading to a breakdown. And the longer it takes for you to accept you have a problem, the longer it will take to receive the necessary help. “Never shy away from seeking help in these situations,” was one of the suggestions by Dr, Ladak.

If you have family or friends who may be suffering from similar disorders, just talking to them about what makes them happy and comfortable can help cope with it and can help calm the person down.

Mindfulness is another method of coping with anxiety as it helps reduce anxiousness and depression. It makes you focus on the present moment without ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. It also encourages a person to see things from a different perspective. “After all, it is in our hands to create and change our thoughts as we have that remote control,” says Dr Ladak.

The event ended with Dr Nazneen answering a few questions from the chatbox, one of which was how not to let failures affect you. The doctor in a very warm tone spoke, “Everybody has an idol or famous personality that they look up to. But, most of the time you only see the tip of that iceberg, which is all the success that person has received.” She further explains that no one focuses on the failure and struggle it took to get to peaks of success. The fear of failure causes anxiety and also leads a person to give up when a certain project is not going their way. To reach that level of success, we have to treat our failures as a stepping stone and keep going no matter how long it takes.

“Ultimately, we are all human beings, and we have flaws. Accept that.” This is Dr Ladak’s advice to us all. Never seek validation from every person you meet. There’s no point in being so critical of yourself or worried about what others may think of you. When you learn to stand up for your values and principles, people will respect that.