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New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

New Year Resolutions You Can Actually Keep


New year, new you? Not really. That’s a tough ask. It’s the new year but how about focusing on realistic goals that could bring a better, healthier you?

Maybe you’ve thought about losing weight, having more salads and going to the gym more often. But most often than not, these goals are highly unsustainable and can put immense pressure on you and before you know it, you’ve broken all your resolutions by avurudhu.

It’s not that you’re completely incapable of sticking to your resolutions, it’s just that maybe you need to set more actionable, realistic and achievable goals.

Here are a few resolutions that you can actually keep.

new year resolutions

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Better you in 2022?

For most, resolutions come and go but the resolutions listed above are sustainable and long-lasting ways to improve your physical and emotional health. Try out a few this year!

  • Sources:
    Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating, Healthline, 2021
  • 5 Tips for Healthy Skin, Mayo Clinic, 2019

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What Is A Panic Attack?

What Is A Panic Attack?


If you know, you know. Your heart pounding in your chest, your breaths are becoming shorter and shorter and the dizziness is setting in. You may have heard the terms ‘anxiety attacks’ and ‘panic attacks’ tossed around and used interchangeably as if they both mean the same thing. While they have some symptoms in common, they’re both very different conditions and are treated in different ways.

Panic attacks come on very suddenly and involve intense and overwhelming fear. Most often than not, they are accompanied by several mental and physical symptoms. Panic attack symptoms are often so extreme that they can cause severe disruption to your daily life.

An ‘anxiety attack’ is not a recognized term in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). However, anxiety is an emotional response hardwired into the body and usually builds gradually, in anticipation of a stressful situation, event or experience.

Panic attack symptoms


  • Feeling detached from oneself and the world
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying


  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Tightness in the throat
panic attack

During a panic attack, your body responds as if you are in real danger even if there is no threat around you. You could be going for a walk, watching TV or cooking in the kitchen.

What is the difference between a panic attack and having anxiety?



Panic attacks often occur out of the blue and involve severe, disruptive symptoms. On the other hand, anxiety can be mild or severe and gradually build up over time. Symptoms of anxiety can be persistent and last days, weeks or even months.

Additionally, during a panic attack, the body’s fight-or-flight response takes over. These physical symptoms are often more intense than the physical symptoms of anxiety.

panic attack vs anxiety attack

How long does a panic attack last?

Panic attack symptoms usually occur for around 10 minutes and then subside. However, some attacks may last longer or may occur simultaneously, making it difficult to know when one attack ends and another begins. Following an attack, you may feel worried, out-of-sorts, or on edge for the rest of the day.

What can trigger a panic attack?

It is not exactly clear what causes a panic attack but the triggers differ from person to person. Potential triggers could include social events, public speaking, situations that remind you of stress and even bright lights or loud noises can trigger a person’s panic attacks. Certain people, places or events can trigger the attack as well. It is a good idea to watch out for your triggers

How do you stop a panic attack in the moment?

Since panic attacks hit you so quickly, it can be extremely scary and fearful. Here are a few things you can try to stop or manage the attacks.

  • Deep breathing –  You may have difficulty breathing in the moment, but trying to take deep, long breaths can reduce panic and fear. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth. Breathe in a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four
  • Recognize that you’re having a panic attack – Recognize that you’re not having a heart attack, remind yourself that this feeling is just temporary and that it will pass soon and you will be OK.
  • Close your eyes – If you’re in an environment that overwhelms you, close your eyes to block out any extra stimuli and focus on your breathing
  • Focus on other senses and sensations around you – During a panic attack, focus all your attention onto one thing. It could be your watch, the pockets on your jeans, the book on the table next to you, the A.C in the room. You can hold onto something soft like a pillow or run your hands along something textured like a blanket. Focus all your energy on this one object and take note of its size, shape, pattern, colour, and more.
  • Keep lavender on hand – Research suggests that lavender has a calming effect and can reduce symptoms of the panic attack
deep breathing

Read more about coping methods at 5 Hacks To Try When You Feel Anxious

Can you prevent a panic attack from happening?

It’s not always possible to prevent a future panic attack but you figure out what triggers your panic attacks and try to avoid or eliminate them from your life. Other tips that can help prevent your panic attack include:

  • Breathing exercises every day
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine excessively
  • Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

Another preventative measure is to speak to a licensed mental health professional who can help you identify your triggers, develop ways to manage them, work through past pain and gain a clearer perspective for the future.

How can you support a person going through a panic attack?

If you suffer from panic attacks or are facing severe anxiety, speak to the mental health doctors on oDoc. Download oDoc today.


  • How To Help Someone Having a Panic Attack, 2020, Healthline
  • Panic Attack vs. Anxiety Attack, 2020, VeryWell Mind
  • Grip on crippling anxiety attacks, 2017, Daily News

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How Hard Is It To Ask, ‘‘Are You Okay?’’

How hard is it to ask, ‘are you okay?’

Suicide is one of the most common causes of premature deaths amongst people who have a mental illness. Every year approximately 703,000 people take their own life and a more significant number attempt suicide. Here, we tackle some questions regarding this difficult subject, which we hope will help you or a loved one:

  • What do we know about suicide? 
  • What are some myths about suicide?
  • Does one signal warnings before committing suicide? 
  • How to recognise if someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, and how to help them? 
  • How critical is the situation?
What drives so many people to take their lives?

For those who haven’t experienced depression and despair, it’s sometimes challenging to understand what leads to suicidal thoughts. It’s usually an attempt to escape unbearable suffering or pain. 

Often, the people who are led to suicide are blinded by hopelessness, loneliness, self-loathing, without any form of escape outside of death.

What are the Myths and Facts about committing suicide?

Myth: There is no way of stopping someone determined to commit suicide.

Fact: People don’t attempt suicide because they want to die but because they want the pain to stop

Suicide is preventable. Even if someone is severely depressed or in pain, their thoughts about ending their life do change. Hence, immediate practical help like staying with the person, providing them assurance and comfort, encouraging them and making future plans can divert their intention from attempting to take their life.

“They’re doing great. Life is wonderful. How could they even contemplate suicide?’ But you don’t know what’s going on inside of someone?”

Myth: Suicidal talk is childish and most often just to seek attention.

Fact: Any suicidal talk or behaviour has to be taken seriously.

It is not just a warning sign that someone could be thinking about suicide.  It could be a cry for help.

The following actions could be signs that someone is contemplating suicide: 

  • Talking about suicide
  • Self-destructive behaviour 
  • Hopelessness towards the future
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

The best way to help prevent suicide is by noticing these signs and acting upon them immediately.

Myth: Reaching out to ask if someone is okay when going through a difficult period may not be helpful, especially if they won’t respond.

Fact: It’s okay to ask, “are you okay” and not know what to say after that.

Providing advice and solutions to a person who is contemplating suicide is not always the answer. Most often, all they need is someone to listen to them. Listening is very powerful, and it validates the emotions that someone is feeling

Myth: Non-experts should not help suicidal people.

Fact: One doesn’t have to be an expert to ask if someone is okay.

In fact, there is no need to treat the problem at all. All that’s required from a friend or loved one is to be present and then guide them to someone who can help.

If you are or know of someone who may be contemplating suicide, it may be helpful to guide them to speak with a mental health professional on oDoc. They then have the flexibility of speaking from the comfort & privacy of their home. To consult, please download the oDoc app here. For additional resources, please visit 

Know that secrets can kill.

If someone confides in you about their plans of suicide and requests confidentiality, please note you may need to break this confidentiality to help save their life. 

It is always better to have your loved ones alive yet angry with you than keeping their secret safe, leading to them taking their lives.

 “Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse; it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.”



  1. Suicide prevention, HelpGuide (2020)
  2. Suicide and Suicide Prevention: Understanding the risk factors, prevention, and how you can help yourself or someone who is struggling right now, Psycom (2021)
  3. 7 common suicide myths—debunked, Aetna (2021)
  4. The Myths and Facts of Youth Suicide, Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) Office of Suicide Prevention
  5. Warning signs of suicide, Save (2021)
  6. Suicide, World Health Organisation (2021)
  7. Fears that stop the question ‘are you okay?’, Sane Australia (2017)

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5 Hacks to Try When You Next Feel Anxious

5 Hacks to Try When You Next Feel Anxious


Those who know, know. That unpleasant heaviness in the chest, the racing heart, the butterflies in the stomach, and at its worst, panic attacks. Anxiety and anxiety disorders can be a heavy burden to carry and often the journey to healing can be long. 

What’s the difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder?

Almost everyone feels anxious from time to time: before a job interview, meeting an important client, a first date. Anxiety is a remnant of our ancient fight or flight response – alerting us to danger and prepping the body to either fight or run from the rabid sabre tooth tiger that’s about to attack us. 

Anxiety is normal when:

  • experienced in response to a particular event
  • lasting only as long as that event
  • is proportional to that event 
  • is a realistic response to the event 

It is when anxiety becomes an overwhelming constant, arising without reason, is disproportionately larger than the problem warrants or refuses to disappear after the event is over that it becomes a mental health disorder. 

How does anxiety differ from stress?

Whilst stemming from the same fight or flight response, stress is different to anxiety.

  • Stress doesn’t change the way you behave whilst anxiety causes you to avoid activities that cause anxiety.
  • Stress finishes with the event, anxiety can remain long after the event is over.
  • The same situation can make a lot of people feel stressed whereas others may not feel anxious in the same situation.
  • Stress can be pinpointed to an event but anxiety can occur outside of external events.
covid positive

How does anxiety differ from worry?

Anxiety is both a mental and physical response whilst worry is predominantly within the mind. This is why overwhelming anxiety can result in panic attacks where the body prepares itself physically to battle a real danger. 

Shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking or trembling (and on the flip side indigestion) are all common experiences connected to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system for fight or flight. 

5 hacks to calm anxiety when it rears its ugly head

Part of the therapeutic response to anxiety is to activate the opposing parasympathetic nervous system so the physiological responses start to calm down. 

Here are 5 quick hacks to try out the next time you feel anxious!


1. Breathing exercises

A sign of an anxiety attack is short rapid breathing. By forcing yourself to take long, deep breaths you allow the vagus nerve to activate which tells the body that there is no real immediate danger. 

Two easy techniques to remember are:

  • The box breath (inhale 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds, exhale 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds) and
  • The diaphragmatic breathing (inhale 5 seconds, hold 7 seconds, exhale 8 seconds). 

2. Tapping

A rapid heartbeat is a common symptom so tapping at a regular slow interval over the heart or middle of the forehead, wrist, chin or upper lip combined with deep breathing helps slow the heart rate. 

3. Label your feelings

Sometimes the physiological reactions can creep up on you when you are doing the most mundane tasks and you may need to actively recognise your thoughts to pinpoint the origin of the anxiety. Once you have identified that you are feeling anxious, it may help to label that feeling verbally, “I am feeling anxious” or “I am feeling fear”. Once labelled, you may often find the feeling dissipates rapidly. 

4. Challenge your thoughts

A quick question to ask yourself when entertaining thoughts that promote anxiety is “is this thought true?” and “is this thought helpful?”. Often anxiety arises as we entertain “what if” thoughts that disassociate us from reality. Asking is it true or helpful helps us discard untrue or unhelpful thoughts. 

5. Anchor to reality

By engaging our senses we become aware of the current reality in the world around us. Helping us control not just our thoughts but the physiological responses to those thoughts. To use the senses during an anxious episode, name five objects in the room around you or close your eyes and try to identify five sounds. To use the sense of touch, pet your dog or outline the shape of an object with your fingers. 

Whilst these hacks may help you through occasional episodes, if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed regularly, it may be more helpful to speak with a mental health professional on oDoc from the comfort & privacy of your home. To consult, please download the oDoc app here


  1. Anxiety Signs & Symptoms, Mind UK
  2. Breathing exercises for stress,
  3. What is EFT tapping?
  4. Anchoring yourself in reality, Psychology Today

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Taking charge of your Mental Health

Taking charge of your Mental Health


The transcribed version of the video is available below.

Shevangi: Hi, good evening everyone. I’m Shevangi from the oDoc team and thank you so much for joining us today. Today, We’ll be talking about something very important in this day and age. It’s mental health and its importance. Have you ever felt overwhelmed with your daily tasks? Have you ever wanted to just drop off and just get away? Ever wondered what it takes to get over this and just carry on? These are thoughts that many of us have felt I think. So we at oDoc believe that this is a very, very important topic that one should not shy away from, but instead, we should talk about it out loud. So here to advise us on how best to overcome these thoughts that I mentioned before and move towards a much healthier mental wellbeing is Dr. Suhashini Ranatunga. Let me first start by giving a brief introduction about the specialist Dr. Suhashini.  She’s a consultant psychiatrist at the national hospital, Sri Lanka and as well as a lecturer in psychiatry at the faculty of medicine, University of Colombo. She is also an MBBS, MD, and MRC holder specializing in psychiatry. Thank you so much, doctor, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us today to discuss what I think is something very, very important for everyone today. So it’s a pleasure to have you on board. So welcome. 

Dr. Suhashini: Thank you for having me and Thank you for choosing this topic to talk about today.

Shevangi : Okay, thank you, doctor. So without any further ado, I would like to just dive straight into the questions, but before that, to all our viewers who are watching, if you also have some questions, please do send us your questions by the comment section below and our team will send the questions over to me. And I will ask that the doctor at the end of the session. So the first question, Dr. Suhashini is, many of us are aware that good mental health stands for having a stable and positive outlook on life and its challenges, but is that all? what exactly is the correct definition or what exactly is mental health and how important is it to adopt good mental health habits? 

Dr. Suhashini: Okay. I think part of the definition you have described in your question. If I  have to define what mental health is, it is a state of wellbeing in which a person, a human being is able to realize his or her abilities and can cope with the normal stresses of life.

Not all of us will ever have a happily ever after. There will be challenges. There will be stresses, but a person with good mental health is able to face these challenges that he or she faces, and also a person with good mental health can work productively, can work fruitfully, and is able to contribute to society. So that is what mental health is all about. But we also talk about what positive mental health is. So positive mental health is not just the absence of a mental health disorder. It is not merely the absence of disease. It is something similar you might be able to grasp it this way, where we might not have any physical problems, any physical ailments, but you people say that you are very unfit. So you can’t take a walk, you can’t go on a hike because they feel physically unfit. So positive mental health is something similar to that where you might not be suffering from a mental health disorder, but so that you’re not suffering from a mental health disorder, but you also need to appreciate what positivity or positive mental health is all about. So that is having positive characteristics in your life with regards to health. And that is having a feeling of purpose. A sense of contentment, your ability to maintain fulfilling relationships, loving, fulfilling relationships, and your flexibility to learn new skills, to adapt to a new environment, to adapt to a new job, to adapt to a new family, and also to able to enjoy life, the ability to live life to the fullest.

So that is basically what positive mental health is all about.

Shevangi: Great. thank you doctor for clarifying that. Just jumping onto the second question, which is also related to what you were saying. What are the common mental health disorders in Sri Lanka and how do we recognize them in ourselves or even others or our loved ones?

Dr. Suhashini: Okay. That’s a very broad area. From my experience or research coming out in Sri Lanka, the commonest mental health disorder would be what we call depression. We see a wide variety of anxiety disorders. To you, it might mean stress disorders, stress-related disorders. And now with the aging community, we also see disorders related to cognition or dementia, which we talk about. We also see psychotic disorders, substance use disorders are becoming very common in Sri Lanka now. These are the spectrum of disorders, but something I would like to highlight or talk about is depression is very common in Sri Lanka and all over the world. If I am to give one message, that is basically that it is a treatable mental health disorder. Part of your question was basically how do we recognize these mental health disorders, with regards to any form of mental health disorders, not just depression, but even anxiety or even substance use disorders or even dementia. The basic concept or the whole mark feature of any mental health disorder is a drop in your functioning.

If you were somebody who was, you know, able to cope with work, cope with what was going on at home, cope with other stresses that you have, that stress is going on in your life. And suddenly you feel that your, your ability to cope or your ability to handle things are affected. And you’re not able to perform well as before. then that could indicate that something is going wrong.

With regards to depression, not only depression but all mental health disorders. There are lots of good websites that are available online which people can go online and look up and educate themselves about. That’s something I would like to do direct but if we have time, I’m more than happy to discuss the common mental health disorders and their common features.

Shevangi: You were talking about certain symptoms that you see within the common disorders. Let’s say ,does someone have to show these symptoms in order for them to seek help, or go speak to a mental health professional or someone who hasn’t face these symptoms Can they go and speak to them?

Dr. Suhashini:  As psychiatrists, we see in Sri Lanka, we are not willing to talk about mental health problems or talk about our emotions. Basically having a mental health issue is considered a sign of weakness. Having a mental health problem is considered a weakness of personality. This is a huge misconception in our society. Sometimes some people would say that it is even the fault of the patient. Mistakenly people believe that if we are in a bad mood or if something is going wrong, we should be able to snap out of it. Because of all these misconceptions, people are extremely unwilling to come to a psychiatrist, to seek mental health, to go and see a mental health professional. And also patients themselves, don’t like to accept that they have a mental health disorder, because that would be a direct attack on themselves saying that I’m a weak person or I don’t have the courage to face up to these difficulties.

I think most importantly, I guess you can do it. The media can do it to improve mental health literacy in our country to make people understand that just like your heart can get affected, your stomach can get affected. So can the brain, and there can be problems occurring in the brain and these problems need professional help. And there are now good treatment options available with regards to mental health disorders. If patients do present there is very good help available to them.

Shevangi: Great. So if someone who hasn’t seen any of these symptoms can go seek help, right?  There’s no set time when they should, or they shouldn’t?

Dr. Suhashini: Well, earlier the better. It’s also important that family members realize that there is a person who might benefit from a professional consult. Sometimes patients are brought to us, and a lot of bad things have happened to them. They have attempted suicide. they have used other methods like drowning out their pain like going into alcohol, taking drugs. Relationships have become strained as a result of the mental illness.  Sometimes family members bring patients to us and even if the patient is not willing to come and see a professional. So I guess it’s everybody’s responsibility, it’s a collective responsibility. And if we do see patients with these behavioral patterns, these emotional disorders, then my advice is to get help as early as possible.

Shevangi: Great. Doctor, we got a question that’s coming from one of the viewers.  So can I ask you that?

Dr. Suhashini: Yes, go ahead.

Shevangi: Quite a long question. So I’m going to read the whole thing. it’s from Chandika. say ” hi, one month ago, I broke up with my girlfriend,  about a four months relationship and it’s just like a rebound. She had a lot of problems. Now. She’s not talking with me. All communication has been completely cut off. At the moment, it feels like I’m lost and I can’t concentrate on my work. I can’t get over with this breakup. What should I do?  Can I please have your advice?”

Dr. Suhashini: Okay. So this is quite a common scenario we actually encounter. Number one, a breakup is basically a loss event. So a person is extremely attached to somebody and suddenly when this person is no longer in this person’s life, then we consider that as a loss event to a person and feeling anxious, feeling lonely, feeling that they have no purpose anymore, feeling that they’re useless. all this can actually have a huge impact on the self-esteem of a person, as well as on different aspects of the patient’s life. So the first important message is to feel lonely, to feel anxious is normal. We all experience these emotions and especially when somebody dear to us leaves us we all experience these emotions. The golden rule is with time, it does get better. But what am I supposed to do during that time?  These might be things you can try out: Distraction works for a lot of people, talking to somebody works for a lot of people, connecting with your friends, your family spending quality time with them will have a huge impact on your mood. Starting a new routine or starting a new hobby might temporarily distract you. Things, which you should not be doing, are turning to alcohol. Some people say that I can forget her when I smoke weed or drink alcohol. So these will lead to long-term problems and they are not even temporary measures because you will feel worse the following day. My advice is basically to give it time, and spend quality time with other people, start something new, a new project, or whatever, and stay away from the negative things that can have any negative impact on your mental health. If these thoughts like feeling anxious, unable to sleep, feeling very low, inability to work, um, problems at the workplace. If this continues for months and months and if they’re becoming worse. Then that might be an indication that you’re going in for depression. And then it might be time for you to see somebody, a professional. 

Shevangi: Great. Thank you for that doctor. That was really helpful, very elaborate. one more question, within our generation today, work stress or being stressed in general is something a lot of us face. Everyone talks about it. Like it’s, it’s normal for us, right? . Being stressed.

So could you give us a few tips that we can follow to reduce the stress or handle it better? 

Dr. Suhashini: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. So there are people who are prone to stress, we call them anxious individuals where their predisposition is to become stressed or to get stressed for the slightest thing. Feeling anxious is a normal human emotion. But if this goes on long-term that is when it starts having negative consequences on one’s physical health as well as your mental health. What is most important is that we have a balance of work, recreation, or time to wind down. For different people, there are different ways in which they find relaxation. for some people it might be listening to music, spending some time with friends, family, for some people it might be meditation. for some people, it might be just going out for a walk. So it is an individualized thing and each person needs to find out what their anti-stress button is. If you’re feeling stressed, then you need to kind of probably spend more time attending to those kinds of activities. In the meantime, I mean, these are general things. It’s important for you to realize what are the things that stress me out. If it is exams, then you need to do something about it. So generally we feel stressed at exams because we are worried about how our performance will be or that we feel under-prepared. Then if it is that you need to start preparing early. If it is something like viva or facing an interview, then you need to have interview prep and start practicing for that early on. The hallmark feature is that the more you expose yourself to something that causes anxiety, the less anxious you will become with time. So if you are somebody who becomes very anxious at interviews, Then before the actual interview day, you need to, you know, expose yourself, face mock interviews as much as possible. the more you face them on the day of the interview, the anxiety will be less because the brain has gone through something similar to that before. If you’re somebody who becomes very anxious because you can’t keep deadlines, then that is somebody who needs to manage their time better. If you’re somebody who gets very stressed because of problems with relationships, then you need to handle your relationships better. There are different types of therapies now which are taught or which are done for people with anger management, for people with assertiveness issues, people with interpersonal relationships. So maybe attending one of those courses might be helpful.

Shevangi: Great. doctor, I have another question which leads on from one of the answers you gave me previously, you said depression was one of the most common disorders that you see in our generation in Sri Lanka. So if it’s so common, are there any tips or things you would like to tell a family member or someone who is taking care of a loved one who’s going through depression? Is there something you can say you should not say anything like that?

Dr. Suhashini: Okay.something you can say is if a doctor has prescribed medication for depression, the most important thing is that you make sure that that family member takes the medicine. The chances of you recovering if you do take the medication as prescribed is about 60 to 70%. So basically encourage the family member to take the medication. Lots of negative things with regards to mental health or things that can worsen depression: taking alcohol, Drugs ,negative relationships, negative people in your life, critical people. if there’s domestic violence at home or any form of physical, sexual, emotional abuse, those kinds of things can  maintain depression. These are the myths with regards to depression: in our society, we are extremely scared to ask about suicide. evidence has shown that if you ask about suicide, if you asked a depressed person, are you feeling suicidal? And that person says, yes, then you need to basically act on it and take that very seriously. The myth is people used to wonder if I ask about suicide from him. Am I putting thoughts? Am I putting ideas into his head? So that doesn’t happen. If you ask about suicide, you’re actually saving a life. If this person says yes, then it, then this person needs immediate professional help. If this patient says, no, don’t worry. You’re not putting an idea into his head. Saying you know, he might go and commit suicide. So the danger of depressionis suicide that is one of the dangers. So basically providing this patient, making sure that this patient takes medicine, staying away from negative things and making sure this person visits their regular mental health professional are things the family can help with. 

Shevangi: Great. Thank you doctor. The other question I have is also related to something you said earlier. You said that mental health is not something we speak about in Sri Lanka. It’s still a very taboo topic. If you look at the Western world, there’s so much noise around it and everyone’s doing something they can. So what can we as individuals do more or do better to spread awareness on mental health and how important it is to speak about it?

Dr. Suhashini: Yeah. So I think what you’re doing right now is doing a lot you know, talking about mental health. It shouldn’t be a taboo topic, at home with your family members, in school. It shouldn’t be something that, you know, we speak behind closed doors. Depression is so common. I mean, one in five people is affected by depression. The amount of patients that present to mental health services is less than 20%. So what can we do? So talking about it might help. The media can play a huge role. If it is a school teacher or a principal of a school, they can have awareness days or sessions to talk about mental health.

In our own homes, as parents, we can encourage our children to express themselves, talk about their emotions. We get very worried, even as parents, when our children start crying and then the moment they start crying to try to distract them and try to sush them down. So take these as opportunities, even when negative things occur in a family, take them as opportunities to talk about negative emotions with your child. I guess these are the things we can do. And also to express empathy to people suffering from mental illness, the moment a person is diagnosed with cancer or a heart attack, we rush to go and see them. And, you know, we are all out to help them. But if we know that a person is suffering from a mental illness, then we prefer to kind of step back because we are not sure how to handle this, what might we can do about it? Depressed people are some of the loneliest people in the world and a depressed person will, actually a symptom of depression is withdrawing themselves from society, withdrawing, drawing themselves from their friends circle and staying inside closed doors, inside their room, thinking about all the negative things. So, I guess if you have a friend or a family member who you think is depressed, offering to go and spend time with them, listening to them, taking them out for a walk or a coffee or lunch might actually do a lot for that person’s mental health.

Shevangi: Definitely. Great. Thank you, doctor. So we have come down to the last two questions which have been sent to us from our viewers. one before the last is how can you build resilience? How can we rebuild resilience mentally as we come out of what 2020 has been?.

Dr. Suhashini: Okay. So earlier I spoke about positive mental health. Positive mental health does not mean that you never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through disappointments. The last year has been full of disappointments for all of us at different levels. We have had loss and we have had change. so these are all part of normal life, normal. they’re all human experiences we all experience throughout a lifespan. These experiences will cause sadness, they will cause anxiety, and stress. But just as a physically healthy person is able to bounce back from an illness or an injury, people with strong mental health are also able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, disappointments, and stress. So, this is what we call resilience. What I discussed earlier, things to build resilience are basically to cultivate positive mental health, doing all the positive things, and staying away from all the negative things that impact your life.

Shevangi: Great. Thank you, doctor. So we’re onto our last question. It was sent anonymously to us via DMs. So this person has said, lately, I’m having a lot of stress in my family life. I think it’s affecting my mental health, like, I’m always forgetting, not being able to focus on anything for a long time. Can’t have pleasure from anything that I used to enjoy before. And it’s even hard to do my job lately. So many mistakes in my work. What can you say about this? 

Dr. Suhashini: Well, okay. So what he or she has described is classic anxiety, classic stress where you’re not able to concentrate, you’re making a lot of mistakes at your workplace, you’re having problems with your relationships. something which I can recommend is what we call problem-solving therapy where we talk about what are the main issues? What are the main negative things that are happening in your life right now? What are the things you can do about it? What are the positive things you can do about it? So let’s say if he says that, I’m in a financial crisis right now, I’m going through a lot of financial hardships. Okay. So then you can say, what can I do to improve my circumstances at the moment? and then we asked him to make a pros and cons list. And then, try and think of what is the best decision I can take or what is the best next step and then acting on it?  So it’s a form of therapy where we focus on the problem. Try to look for the solutions or come up with different solutions, picking the correct solution, picking the correct way to go forward, and then acting on it. That helps. Also, if you’re going through anxiety, like we discussed earlier, think of things that have reduced your anxiety earlier. it might be talking to a friend, talking to your spouse. maybe taking some time off work, spending some time outdoors, things like that. And spending some time with regards to that. Also if you’re taking alcohol, drugs, then probably staying away from that. If anxiety levels are very high, you’re finding it extremely difficult to fall asleep at night. And if it’s having a huge impact on your life, then there’s also medication that can be prescribed on a short-term basis until you get through this difficult period.

Shevangi: Great. Thank you so much for answering all our questions, doctor. it’s been amazing. We’ve come to the end of our webinar today. You’ve clarified a lot of my doubts and everyone else who has sent us questions. So thank you so much. As you said, it’s a very important topic that everyone should be talking about. And we at oDoc completely believe that, and we will continue to voice out about mental health and spread awareness wherever or whenever we can. So thank you so much for taking time off to answer all our questions. It was a very informative session. If any of you who are watching would like to get advice from Dr. Suhashini in a  more private setting, you could always consult her through oDoc and clarify any doubts you may have from the safety and privacy of your homes. With that, I would like to conclude this discussion. Thank you so much doctor once again, it’s been a pleasure.

Dr. Suhashini:  Thank you. Thanks for having me and thanks for talking about positive mental health. 

Shevangi: Definitely. thank you so much, doctor. Hopefully, we’ll have another session soon to spread more awareness.

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