Dr. Ankit Patel: Life Lessons from one Psychiatrist’s Fight with Depression

Dr Ankit Patel, welcome to akhilvaani- a platform to “Own-Up Open Up and Talk Mental Illness.  I have been glued to your earlier posts in Facebook, Twitter and Bipolar India about your own fight with Depression, Kindly accept my most sincere gratitude for agreeing to participate in this national festival.

Question 1: At the outset, tell us, who you are, what your profession is and what is your passion.(you can tell anything and everything you want to tell in free-flowing manner. I want the people to get a feel of what you are)?

Answer :
My Name is Dr Ankit Patel, I am  a Psychiatrist (Adult & Geriatric) and I practice @my clinic in Koregaon Park, Pune. I decided to become a Psychiatrist when i was in the 11th standard. I don’t remember how my interest came in to this because it has  been a decade. I know that time no one wanted to become a Psychiatrist cause Mental health awareness was not even a bit in those days.
Ankit PatelQuestion 2: You are not only a trained doctor but a Psychiatrist too. Recently on you twitter handle you opened up about your struggle with Clinical Depression, there by becoming the first psychiatrist in the country to open about his Mental Illness. Can you tell for the benefit of the readers as to what motivated you to own-up, open-up and talk about your Mental Illness and to become a torch-bearer of the movement
I Decided to Speak up because during that phase of my life I faced discrimination too. I thought if by coming in public even if only one person who is suffering from depression reads my post that person will feel he or she is not alone and can survive this too just like I did..
whenever I share with few of my colleagues they laughed at me they used to say Psychiatrist and Depression. I felt so lonely in those days and pessimistic about myself. I want people to know that no one is untouchable from Mental Illness and it can happen to anyone.
I opened up on social media because many younger people are on social media and i wanted to tell them. Social media is a platform where you can reach many by sitting at one place. That is why  I Shared my story on Facebook and Twitter
Question 3: Tell us, when did the diagnosis happened and what ever the symptoms. Tell us  when and how it all began. And if you can educate us, before the diagnosis did you have any symptoms particularly going back to adolescence or late childhood
Question 4: Unlike Bipolar and Schizophrenia where biological underpinnings and genetic footprints are strong, the Clinical Depression which you suffer from need not run in family. Nonetheless, It is told both nature and nurture plays a role in onset of mental illness including its most common expression-the Clinical Depression. Do you think there was some genetic lability in your case. Similarly can you in retrospect the environmental triggers from the past (including any specific trigger from the childhood or early adolescence).
Answer 3 and 4:
I  was diagnosed in July 2017. It was last year of my MD Program just before my exam. The reason I went to a therapist  because at that time I was feeling it was not worth living. I
was praying to god everyday before my sleep  that if i sleep please never let me wake up. And when I consulted a Therapist I came to know I was depressed since 2014 but symptoms fully hit me only in 2017 July.
Then I realized why I had  to stretch myself in my work and in my studies  because it was affecting my work and studies for so long and i never realized it could be due to depression.
In the initial phase I tried to isolate myself completely. I lost my friends  bcause of lesser interactions.
Question 5:If the answer to above question is yes, Can you recall any early life stressor that might have contributed to your adult life onset of Depression (to be precise my childhood was stressed and the childhood sexual attacks gave me early depression, suicidal ideation, chronic anxiety and panic attack and PTSD ( this is an optional question in any case)
Question 6 Depression comes with deep-seated distress and inexplicable sadness where the person finds himself/herself mired in hopelessness, helplessness and nothingness that leads to suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and even completed suicide. Has suicidal ideation ever bogged you down. If yes, how have you managed it?
Answer 5 & 6
My stressors started in 2013.
There was a time in 2013 when my family faced deep financial crisis, it was in 2013 on my birthday that I lost my two close friends in a car accident. I still remember not a single drop of tears came out from my eyes.
After 15 days of that incident my grandfather (nanu) passed away who was suffering from Alzheimer and Parkinson.
I am not sure whether because of these I got depression but I cant deny also because we never know what is the cause for depression yes there are few causing factors but no psychiatrist in the world can say a person got depression due to this specific reason only.
Question 7:Stigma around Mental Illness is deeply ingrained in the  Indian Society. Tell about your experience of any stigma that you have encountered in society, family, friends or neighborhood. Also as some one whose job is to treat mentally ill and counsel care giver as well as in your new role  an opinion maker and crusador, tell as to what actions are needed to combat stigma on war footing in the country
I have explained bit about it in answer no 2
Question 8: The most classic case of a Mental Health Professional going public about his/Her Mental Illness was Key Redfield Jamison and her fight with Bipolar Disorder. Can you tell me, does a mental health professional going public about his own mental illness is likely to face problems that an ordinary person or a celebrity talking you it will not face
Yes Mental Health Professional also faces the same discrimination as an ordinary person. In fact it can affect my Practice because i know Indian society it takes year to develop an image but a second to damage it.
If you want a change in society the first step should always be taken by yourself.
I wanted to tell it loud and clear that I am a Psychiatrist who had Depression who took treatment properly and is now living his life normally.
Our country always wants an example and there fore I thought my example will help people to accept the treatment.
Question 9 If a mentally ill person has to become functional and lead a normal life, there has to be some one standing behind him with rock like support. That person can be family, friend or any one else. Who has been that one person / persons in your life


My Sister, my Psychiatrist and my therapist has always been there behind me for rock like Support
Question 10: One thing is for certain that despite your Depression you have fought against odds and have become a successful psychiatrist What role psychiatric medicines have played in your well being. And other than medicines what other things (therapy, meditation, yoga, walking, exercise) have helped you.

I have taken medication for 12 months for my depression and also I was taking behaviour therapy with my therapist which ended Last week only 11th August 2018

Question 11 There is a small (and growing ) group of Indian youngsters who think medication is not the necessary part of armamentarium of a sufferer to deal with severe mental illnesses. What suggestion do you have to give them both as a sufferer of Mental Illness and as a Psychiatrist?
First suggestion is to increase awareness of mental health and to educate people more about mental health and its treatment. We need more survivors to come openly to speak up.  Every voice can make a difference
Question 12 If I recap, in personal and professional life, you have made it a point to be open about your depression and treatment and that you have been very lucky to have extremely supportive family, friends and colleagues. From your experience, what message you would like to give to society in general and family, friends and employers in particular as to how to make life of a mentally ill more fulfilling.
A Mentally ill pt Only need supports from the society and family. If a person who has mental illness get this his path becomes easy . And always remember no health without mental health.


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