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Sikhism and Mental Health

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Jul 1, 2004.

  1. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    I read this somewhere. I think its worth a debate.

    Quote:
    I, a Psychologist, work in the mental health field and often with migrant Sikhs who are suffering from much distress and harmful behaviours. In this distress I often hear and notice a spiritual disconnection and try and help in some way. This has got me wondering about (1) what 'Sikhism' says about what is mental distress / illness / problems and (2) what advice it offers in coping with it? (3) Perhaps discussants might wish to share how they use their sense of Sikhee to cope too? Any thoughts on this matter would be very appreciated. Thank you.
     
    #1 Admin Singh, Jul 1, 2004
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2009
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  3. sukhi

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    wow... well, the only thing i can think of is that when i have problems and am really stressed, a good dose of Simran helps ease my fears, clear my mind, and gets me back to the calm girl i normally am.
     
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  4. truth_seeker

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    #3 truth_seeker, Jul 23, 2004
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  5. spnadmin

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    That is a good article Truth_seeker ji (once I found it on the web site) and simran is very calming and gets a person sorted out. There is for me no one time of the day when I do simran -- any time of the day every day -- a wonderful blessing.

    I will fix the 404 Error for you.
     
  6. spnadmin

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    Aman ji

    You said you thought this would make for a good debate: I, a Psychologist, work in the mental health field and often with migrant Sikhs who are suffering from much distress and harmful behaviours. In this distress I often hear and notice a spiritual disconnection and try and help in some way. This has got me wondering about (1) what 'Sikhism' says about what is mental distress / illness / problems and (2) what advice it offers in coping with it? (3) Perhaps discussants might wish to share how they use their sense of Sikhee to cope too? Any thoughts on this matter would be very appreciated. Thank you. (Taken from Post 1)

    When I first joined the forum a member posted only once, and it was a suicide message. I sent him a pm and gave him my yahoo address so that he could hear from someone who would perhaps give him some support. He was a student in India who was extremely depressed, ashamed pf his condition, ridiculed by his friends who did not protect his privacy, and ready to cave in. While I waited for his reply, hoping to be able to cheer him up, I asked 3 Sikh friends (not SPN members) about Sikh attitudes toward mental illness and its treatment. I didn't want to suggest therapy to him without first knowing if there would be any cultural biases that would have him turn down that idea and turn me off. These 3 friends gave me 3 entirely different answers. One, a 19 year old in New Zealand, said that mental illness and therapy were viewed as social embarrassing and also evidence of bad karmas. That the best thing was to keep it a secret for fear of being shut out by family and friends. The second, a middle-age woman in Canada, said Sikhs were modern, and there was no problem admitting to mental illness and getting professional help. The third, a retired Singh in Australia, said that mental illness did carry social stigmas. But that as long as the treatments were medical in nature (pills) and not talk therapy, a Sikh would be more likely to accept treatment in that form.

    This is only a sample of 3 people. So no conclusions can be drawn. But there were some interesting contrasts for me in what they said.

    All three answers carry for me a lot of unspoken information about the social surroundings of any one Sikh suffering from mental illness. In Canada I do know that there have been progressive government efforts to inform the Sikh community of mental illness, and of how to get the help they need. I thought New Zealand was a progressive place. Maybe that is my ignorance showing. The response of the retired Singh was most interesting to me. In essence he was saying: As long as mental illness is viewed as biological and has a scientific explanation and cure, there will be no stigma. If it is viewed in a different way then it is harder to convince someone to get help. What was he really saying? Neither of us thought there might be some more levels to his answer at that time.

    Spiritual intervention along with professional psychological and drug interventions may turn out to be the best way to connect with Sikhs because of the spirituality of Sikhism -- it is a way of life and not a once a week experience. Let's keep the dialog on this going.

    That is my answer to your request for now. I might have more to say later. As you know I am a psychologist (not a therapist though), and have had a lot of stress in my own life because of the mental illnesses of people close to me. So I am really interested in how this conversation unfolds.
     
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  7. harbansj24

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    Narayanjyot ji ,

    Yes mental illness cause a lot of pain not only to the person afflicted but to the persons around especially if the person is very close. Lack of awareness also brings with a feeling of guilt about the cause. So many times the therapy also has to include other family members.

    There may be no single cause. The cause may be hereditary, reactive, a bio chemical imbalance or secondary to another disease or a combination and one cause could also be trigger to the other.

    Ver often the disease also cannot be strictly compartmentalized into pure depression, Schizophrenia, Manic, different types of obsessions, phobias etc. Often they are combination in different degrees.

    In mild form it can be treated through counseling and spirituality.

    But severe forms have to be initially treated with medicine or ECT. Once the person stabilizes, he should be put on professional counseling and most important on Spiritual Therapy. Naam Simran is one of the most effective and soothing post medical therapy.

    For beneficial effects of Naam Simran one must read Guru Nanak Chamatkar especially the discussions Guru Nanak Ji had with Bharthar Jogi, Sidhs, Bhagat Jans in Chps 72, 77, 80 of vol 2. But it is preferable if one can give it full reading first and then these particular chapters and more.

    Yes this is a very fascinating subject.

    Whatever clinical Psychiatrist may claim, I do not think anyone has in depth knowledge of mental illness and its definite cures.
     
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  8. shearwater

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    Dr. Alfred P. Libbey invented a formula containing Vitamin B-12, Vitamin B-6 and Folic Acid which when taken under the tongue (sublingually) will ameliorate many problems with people suffering from anxiety, dementia, depression, and a few other maladies including blood vessel plaques caused by the harmful effectcs of the amino acid homocystein. Homocystein in the blood actually is the cause of these plaques forming because it grates on the walls of the blood vessels and the cholesterol covers the abrasions. People over age fifty often experience a lack of vitamin B-12 in their gut because of a lack of the intrinsic factor which ordinarily produces B-12 in the small intestine. Often this can be resolved with monthly Vitamin B-12 shots. An easier and possibly more effective way is with B-12, B-6 and Folic Acid taken sublingually. The vitamins must be taken sublingually because of the fact that the stomach and gut will either break down the vitmains before they have a chance of being absorbed or will not bind with the proteins, etc. I have take these and find that my physical endurance while working is lengthened so that I do not feel as tired as I do without them. Its a good prgram and I would recommend it to any and all sikhs over 50 yerars old. I dissolve one pill under my tongue every day. The vitamines are available through TRi Vita, a health and vitamin company in Phoenix, Arizona.

    Dr. Libbey says that he estimates that 85% of persons now in mental hospitals could be released if they would start this regimen of Vitamin B-12, B-6 and Folic Acid therapy.
     
  9. harbansj24

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    Shearwater ji,

    Vitamin B12 & B6 is given in the form of Methylcobalamin and of coarse with Folic acid. It is particularly beneficial for pure vegetarians above the age of 50 as there is a deficiency of these for vegs in this age group. Deficiency of these cause nerve disorders and ill effects are due to this deficiency which are generally minor in nature.

    But we are talking of more severe forms of Mental afflictions and in much younger persons which are not due to such deficiencies. These are require to treated with specialised prescription drugs under the supervision of clinical Psychiatrist.
     
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  10. spnadmin

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    harbhansji

    There were many things I wanted to say last night but left things as they were. You have said everything else that I wanted to add in Post 6. I agree with you 100 percent on every point. The next thing that needs to be considered in depth is what responsible spiritual support would be like. Between the land of the false babas and the zone of the simplistic though well-meaning religious cliches a lot better can be said to heal the soul. You probably can speak volumnes to me, to us, on that point as well.
     
  11. spnadmin

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    And on this post as well I agree with you. You are speaking from the view of established medical research. The longer one waits for professional help from the time of the first onset of severe mental illness (which yes does tend to manifest in late teens and early '20's) the harder it is to address those ills with either medication or diet or therapy. The harder it is for a seemingly effective medication to prevent a second, third or later episode of deep depression, or psychosis,. The more visits to the hospital or psychiatric clinic are needed. And each event lasts for a longer period of time, with the person left to fight demons alone as the family becomes more discouraged and more exhausted. These patterns have been found in research in many different countries and cultures. Thank you harbhansji for 2 sensible messages.
     
  12. spnadmin

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    Forwarded by forum member Tejwant Singh ji

    Mental Health ... is a Health Issueby
    GAGANDEEP SINGH, M.D.

    http://sikhchic.com/columnists/mental_health_is_a_health_issue

    Let me start off by saying that I am a Child and Adolescent psychiatrist (yes, that makes me a physician).

    Prior to completing a fellowship and specializing in working with "kids", I completed training as an Adult psychiatrist (for the record - my patients would be the adults, not me).

    These levels of training were preceded immediately by 4 years of medical school and a double major during my undergraduate years, prior to that. Sounds like a lot of fun to all of you, I'm sure.

    Anyway, imagine the excitement on your parents' faces when you tell them that you're planning on becoming a doctor or some other professional! Stereotypically (and maybe realistically) speaking, the sound of their own voices saying, "My son/daughter is a doctor" brings more smiles to their faces than a lifetime supply of butter chicken, samosas and gol gappe!.

    So I'm sure you could understand my parents' excitement when I announced that I, too, was pursuing a degree in medicine!

    That lasted a good 5 minutes and then the song-and-dance Bollywood version of a positive reaction took a bit of a turn. Suffice it to say, my chosen goal of being a psychiatrist did not resonate the same way (initially) as the more ideal notion of having a cardiologist or surgeon for a son. I think the best illustration of this is my mother's first expression of her concern; "Tu pagalaan da doctor banda peyain?" (You're going to be a doctor of crazy people?).

    It took a little bit of time for my parents' "Are you serious?" dust to settle.
    That was then, and this is now.

    All kidding aside, my parents and family have been supportive from that time forward. This is in no small part due to my insistence that the issue of mental health is a very serious one, and that, indeed, the vast majority of those who suffer from mental health issues are not remotely "crazy" in the truest sense of the word.

    That actually brings me to the purpose of this brief introduction.

    As we can see from this personal anecdote, there is a certain amount of misinformation about the field of psychiatry, as well as some stigma that is pervasive within the larger culture and, perhaps even more, in our subculture.

    It may not come as a surprise to you that we, as a community, generally do not talk about mental illness with people outside the family because of certain social conventions which unfortunately promote shame and guilt surrounding these topics. Once we get past the point of keeping things "under wraps" and actually approaching a health care provider, we still often have difficulty gaining access to appropriate services due to linguistic, economic, and educational barriers.

    In some cases, once the aid of a provider has finally been sought, the targeted problem may not be identified accurately (misdiagnosis) because of linguistic and cultural mismatches again, or because of the patient's focus on somatic (physical) symptoms, family shame, or fear of reprisal.

    The "fault" of receiving inadequate mental health care does not lie solely with our community. It is a known (and researched) fact that misdiagnosis often occurs in cross-cultural situations due to the fact that assessment tools developed in one cultural setting may be found invalid when translated or applied elsewhere.

    Other barriers to treatment which are present for society as a whole, and not just our community, include a lack of providers, incompetent models of care, inadequate reimbursement from insurance companies, and fragmented services.

    These barriers in and of themselves make it difficult to get mental health services to those who need them, not to mention the additional weight of the factors pertinent to us as a group.

    As a result of this confluence of factors, the pattern that has emerged is one of Sikh- and other ‘new' Americans, in general, tending not to seek services until they are truly desperate.

    Consequently, they are thought to become more severely ill than Caucasian Americans by the time they approach the same services for assistance.

    Let us presume that the barriers have been broken and a mental health provider has evaluated the "patient".

    Once an appropriate diagnosis is uncovered and addressed, the next hurdle is the understanding and implementation of recommended measures and treatment. It has been found that if a Western treatment is at odds with the treatment traditional in our communities, the family may ignore the provider and stay with tradition. I don't think that this comes as a shock to many of us (here you may wish to reference the millions of uses of "moti laachi", "lassan", and "shehad").

    This indirectly highlights the overwhelming influence of the social and practical value of a family unit in our community, as opposed to a more individualistic approach to these topics in a "Western" culture.

    The concern that arises from the above issues is quite simply that people who would benefit from mental health treatment are falling through the cracks every day.

    In fact, a University of Toronto study revealed that students from South Asian (and South European) ethnic backgrounds scored higher on a scale for depression (the Beck Depression Inventory) and were also more likely to be classifiable as mildly depressed than those from either East European or Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.

    The authors proposed an explanation for this which clearly emphasized the role of societal discrimination in producing feelings of learned helplessness and subsequent depression that were observed.

    A somewhat surprising finding in a study done in the United Kingdom was that suicide rates of young women immigrants from the Indian subcontinent were consistently higher than those of their male counterparts. Interestingly, this study found that family conflict appears to be a precipitating factor in many suicides, whereas mental illness is rarely cited as a cause.

    However, depression, anxiety and domestic violence may contribute to the high rates of suicide, and there is a growing concern that affective (mood) disorders may be under-diagnosed in the South Asian population.

    This is just another illustration of the aforementioned notion that Sikhs and other South Asians are often not getting the mental health assistance that they may desperately need.

    There is much work to be done in order to begin to combat this problem. The first step in this is just to raise awareness, which I hope to have done here. The second, and more important step, is proper education about these matters.

    In the coming articles, I will discuss specific types of mental health issues and signs about which one should remain vigilant when 'screening' for such mental health needs. I will also discuss some specific details on the reactions and attitudes that researchers have found among the Sikh/South Asian community with regard to those specific 'diagnoses'.

    In all seriousness, if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, other mood symptoms, ADHD, or just having a difficult time with conflicts within yourself or with others around you, get help as soon as you can.

    If someone you know is struggling with something similar and is not speaking up for themselves, encourage them to do so. Better yet, be a voice for them.

    Remember the story of Anne Frank - we don't always take a stand when we think we're not directly impacted by something, but no one knows what the future holds and whether we may be affected ourselves one day.

    Thank you for reading this far. Whether I am able to help you personally in my practice or not, please get the help you or your loved ones need!

    If you would be interested in visiting my website to learn about these issues in more detail and to get some resources, please feel free to navigate to http://www.gsinghmd.com and browse the site.

    I hope that you don't know anyone who needs this number right now, but it is important to have: Toll Free National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
     
    September 3, 2009

     
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  13. spnadmin

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    A very important statement in the article above:
    "Consequently, they are thought to become more severely ill than Caucasian Americans by the time they approach the same services for assistance."

    This happens because the longer the delay in getting help at the time of the very first onset of a psychiatric problem, the longer the hospital stay if there is one, the more difficult to find the right combination of drugs at the right dosage levels, and the more likely it is for there to be repeated episodes later on requiring more hospitalization.

    The doctor knows what he is talking about. :welcome: Visit his web site.

    http://www.gsinghmd.com
     
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  14. harbansj24

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    Narayanjot ji,

    This needs some elaboration.

    Spiritual Healing especially in form of Naam Simran is not just some magic formula or miracle healimg. Far from it. Sikhism has no place for magic. Naam Simran connects the person with the Creator through a positive thought process in the person which is nothing but neurological Bio chemical reaction. That is why the person first needs to be brought to some degree of mental stability through medications or ECT for him to be able to gain from this spiritual therapy.

    Hence it is important to understand that medical treatment and Spiritual Therapy especially Naam Simran are not mutually exclusive. They compliment each other.

    It will also be helpful to understand why Naam Simran is the preferred form of Spiritual Therapy.

    It has been repeatedly stressed in SGGS that Simran is far superior to empty meditation. Doing only meditation frustrates a person because just nothing happens. He cannot concentrate as he is supposed to and mind starts to wander. He has to quietly sit at one place and do nothing. Many well known personalities have been frustrated by lack of result in meditation. The most notable example being the BEATLES. If I remember right Mia Farrow also had such frustating experience with Meditation.

    Naam Simran is a different thing all together. You can do Simran at any time and you do not have to sit still. You mind can still wander but over a period of time it grows on you and slowly it becomes a part of you!

    So Simran triggers the neurological biochemical action.


    The beauty is that Naam Siran is completely secular. You need not just use Sikh terms. It can also be equally effective by saying "Ram- Ram", "Jai Gobinda, Jai Gopala" "Allah o Akbar" "Our father Jesus" etc.!

    We can now begin to understand why our Gurus say that Naam Simran brings on Chardi Kalan in any person!

     
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  15. harbansj24

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    Narayanjot ji,

    We cannot but agree more on the need to getting medical help at the earliest to avoid clinical deterioration.

    But the good doctor like all good clinical Psychiatrist does not even touch upon the complementary professional counseling let alone complementary Spiritual therapy.

    We have already seen in another thread how placebos are having significant beneficial effects even for physiological ailments which is brought about by neurological bio chemical reactions which can also be brought on by Spiritual Therapy especially Simran. But only in combination with medical treatment.


    If this is true for physiological problems, it must more so for psychiatric problems. But again the caution. First the patient must be brought to some degree of mental stability through medical treatment in order for him to be able to take up and respond to Spiritual therapy. This has to be complimentary and a part of rehab process.

    Again the stress that these cannot be mutually exclusive processes.
     
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