Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Have you ever thought that when you sit for exams, tests or some task which requires you to perform so that you can be judged, your heart starts beating fast, you become nervous and invariably your performance declines. This happens to everybody but for some it is so disabling that it messes up your entire performance to a considerable degree. People wonder what their performance would have had been had this phenomenon not been a part of their experience.
First of all as a psychiatrist I would like to explain this phenomenon and then I would like to give certain tips which would be of immense help to you.
  This phenomenon in psychiatry is called performance anxiety. By performance anxiety I mean any nervousness, increase in heart rate, sweating, tremors, dryness of mouth, weakness which occurs just before giving any test etc.
This may be as impairing in children as in adults and could be the main reason behind your child's failure in examinations.
Tips to reduce performance anxiety can be divided into drugs based and non-drug based.
To start with i would like to list non drug based measures. Main non drug based measures include-
1) Deep breathing exercises-these are the easiest and cheapest way to overcome your anxiety.
2) JPMR-these are progressive muscle relaxation exercises which very effective way to control your disabling anxiety symptoms. But the drawback is that you need to learn them from a qualified psychiatrist or psychologist and they are time consuming.
3) Distraction techniques-the main principle which governs this type of therapy is that your thoughts lead to these symptoms. So distracting from your anxiety provoking thoughts will cause these anxiety symptoms to subside.

Main drawbacks of non-drug based measures include:-
-it is time consuming.
-exact technique needs to be mastered to have maximum effect.        
-it needs space.
-it is not useful in case of severe anxiety.
-it is difficult to teach to children.
-instant benefit is limited.
To people who have these limitations drug based methods are best which include
1) Beta blockers such Propranolol which can be taken before exam or test.
2) Benzodiazepines such as Alprazolam. It is for short term control of anxiety.
3) SSRI'S such as Escitalopram. It is for long term control of anxiety.
Main drawbacks of drug based measures include:-
-A consultation from a psychiatrist must before administration of drugs.
-It is costlier than non-drug based methods.
So it is advisable to get a proper health and psychiatric evaluation before instituting any treatment.

With best wishes for healthy and long life
Dr Hitesh Sharma 
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)


  Every parent teacher and guardian wants their child to excel in studies and have a bright academic career ahead. To realize this dream they try to provide their ward with best facilities and environment so that they can get the best out of their child and thus lead them to a bright future. Starting from best schools to extra time to best resources, whatever may be required is fulfilled for the child.
Then, why it is so that certain children excel and other fare poorly on academic fronts. There may be a plethora of reasons for your child to fare poorly on scholastic front. Every worried parent has a right to find the reason for the child’s dismal performance so that they may correct the cause of this problem if possible and guarantee a bright career for their offspring. In the following blog I am going to discuss certain causes of poor academic performance and their remedies if possible.  

     1.      Academic performance may be not be actually poor but may be perceived by parents as poor. This happens when the parent’s expectations are very high. All of us should know that not every child is genius. The real meaning of poor academic performance is academic performance far less than average for that age. Reassurance is best remedy for the parents otherwise they will unnecessary wait their energy and resources. A proper psychological counseling will be of immense help.

     2.      Academic performance may actually be poor. How to come to conclusion that the academic performance is poor? Visible below par academic performance to a neutral person who is neither a parent nor teacher can decide this. 

Causes of true poor academic performance

        1.      Social

        2.      Family related

        3.      Medical

        4.      Psychiatric

        5.      Environmental

-Social causes of poor academic performance include bulling at school, over comparison with toppers, neglect of child in peers. This leads to inferiority complex and an impact on school grades. The guardian should look into this matter and arrange for proper solution in discussion with school authorities and teachers

- Causes of poor scholastic performance originating in family include neglect from parents, abuses, fights between parents and non-cordial atmosphere in family. These reasons can be behind the child below par performance in school.

-medical causes include malnutrition, chronic diseases like asthma, cancer, congenital heart defects. Proper medical treatment and regular medical check-up is the only solution to these problems being identified and treated to rise in academic performance.

-psychiatric problems like autism mental retardation and dyslexia may lead to poor academic performance. There are special ways to get maximum out of children with these problems. For details you must consult your psychiatrist. Other psychiatric problems like depression, OCD and schizophrenia should be identified and treated to make your child perform better.

-environmental problems include crowded house and schools noise, air or water pollution. Changing child’s environment also helps.

Wishing you a healthy life

Dr Hitesh Sharma

MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)

For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit--

Monday, May 13, 2013


We all feel sad some or the other time but this does not mean that we are suffering from depression. So what is depression? 

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent and pervasive low mood usually lasting for more than two weeks. 

Other symptoms of depression are-
Major symptoms- these are apart from depressed mood
      1.      Lack of interest in once pleasurable activities.
      2.      Decreased energy
Minor symptoms-
      1.      Decreased sleep
      2.      Decreased appetite
      3.      Lack of confidence
      4.      Lack of concentration
      5.      Suicidal ideas
      6.      Decreased activity
      7.      Guilt

Depression can be with or without psychotic symptoms.
Depression is mild if it has 2 from major and 2 from minor, moderate if there are 2 from major and 3 from minor criteria and severe if there are 3 from major and at-least 4 from minor criteria present.
Depression has a life time prevalence of around 10%.
Risk factors for depression
Women are affected two times more than men.
Depression commonly occurs in middle 40’s.
Genetic factors- family history

Causes of depression

       1.      Certain neuro-chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and acetylcholine.
       2.      Hormonal alterations like thyroid, growth hormone and prolactin.
       3.      Minute abnormalities in brain
Average length of depression episode can be from 6-9 months
There are various scales to measure the severity of depression. These are
        A.      Hamilton
        B.      Beck
        C.      MADRS
        D.     Zung

Treatment of depression

Treatment by medicines
          A.      SSRI’S fluoxetine, sertraline, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, escitalopram and citalopram
          B.      SNRI’S venlafaxine, duloxetine, milnacipran and desvenlafaxine.
          C.      NDRI- Bupropion 
          D.     Mirtazapine, trazadone, raboxetine, tianaptine,
          E.      TCA’S- Amitriptyline, imipramine, amoxapine
          F.       MAOI inhibitors
Medicines for augmentation of anti-depressants are
          A.      Lithium
          B.      Anti-psychotics
          C.      Modafenil
          D.     Thyroxine
          E.      Pindolol
          F.       buspirone
Treatment resistant cases can be treated with electro convulsive therapy. Average no of ECT required for depression is around 6-8 in number.

Wishing for your healthy life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit-

Sunday, May 12, 2013


What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder? 

It is a type of an anxiety disorder in which the person feels anxiety for most of the time of day. The anxiety is difficult to control and associated with symptoms like difficulty sleeping, muscle tension, restlessness and irritability. The anxiety is of such grade that it significantly disturbs important areas of life. These symptoms should be present for at-least 6 months to be classified as GAD.
GAD has a typical onset in 20’s and its prevalence is close to 5% in general population. Women are affected more with a ratio of 2:1.

Cause of Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD

       1.    Abnormalities in serotonin levels
       2.    Abnormalities in benzodiazepines
       3.    Minute abnormalities in structure of brain
The distinction between GAD and normal Anxiety is excessive to the nature that it is difficult to control.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD 

Apart from muscle tension and sleep disturbance these symptoms may or may not be present are:
       1.    Tremors
       2.    Palpitations
       3.    Dry mouth
       4.    Sweating
       5.    Restlessness
       6.    Chills
       7.    Nausea
       8.    Rapid breathing
       9.    Chocking sensation
      10. Dizziness
      11. Abdominal discomfort
      12. Chest discomfort
Most of patients of this disorder visit cardiologists, gastroenterologists, internists, general practitioners and pulmonologists instead of psychiatrists. Only 33% manage to consult a psychiatrist.

Treatment of Generalized Anxiety DisorderGAD

 Medicinal treatment includes
      a)    SSRI’SThe most effective SSRI is paroxetine
      b)   Buspirone
      c)    SNRI’S -Venlafaxine
      d)   TCA’S such as imipramine are effective
      e)    Propranolol
      f)     Benzodiazepine- should be avoided as they can cause dependence in long term use. They should only be prescribed for immediate symptomatic relief.
Medicinal treatment of GAD is usually for 12 months but if relapse has occurred it can be life-long for complete relief.
Non medicinal treatment includes
      a)    Cognitive approach
      b)   Behavioral approach
  Wishing you a healthy life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit

Saturday, May 11, 2013


 Tobacco or nicotine is one of the most commonly abused substances in the world. The addiction potential of nicotine is such that it is the most difficult substance to abstain from, once dependence develops.

What is Nicotine dependence or addiction?

Presence of three of following criteria in span of one year is required for the diagnosis of nicotine dependence
       1.      Craving
       2.      Tolerance
       3.      Withdrawals
       4.      Use despite harm
       5.      Neglect of alternate pleasurable activities
       6.      Loss of control
Withdrawals of nicotine are characterized by
        a)      Tension
        b)      Irritability
        c)      Drowsiness
        d)      Increased appetite
        e)       Weight gain
        f)      Decreased heart rate and blood pressure
        g)   Difficulty concentrating
Nicotine withdrawals start within 2 hours peak in 48 hours and remain for months
Types of nicotine usage
        a)      Smoking
        b)      Chewing
        c)      Sniffing
50% of world’s total population has used tobacco in one form or other in their lifetime. Around 75% of habitual smokers have tried to quit smoking once in their lifetime.

Cessation of smoking has following health benefits

      1.      Decreased risk of heart attack and stroke
      2.      Decrease risk of lung diseases
      3.      Decreased risk of cancers
      4.      Decrease risk of newborn disorders like low birth weight if mother smokes in pregnancy.
Treatment of nicotine dependence is one of the most challenging tasks in addiction psychiatry. Due to its highly addictive nature quitting smoking is very much uphill task.

Various pharmacological methods used to quit smoking are as follows-

         1.      Nicotine replacement therapies- these include
a)      Nicotine inhalers
b)      Nicotine lozenges
c)      Nicotine patches
d)      Nicotine gums
e)      Nicotine nasal spray
         2.      Non nicotine medications include
a)      Bupropion
b)      Nortriptyline
c)      Clonidine
d)      Benzodiazepines
e)      Varenicline
The most efficacious medication found to help quit smoking is varenicline and the worst is nicotine gums.
Wishing you a healthy life ahead
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit-


Mania or first episode mania to be precise is a psychiatric disorder in which a person has persistent and abnormal elevated or irritable mood lasting more than a week or less if the disruption is such that patient needs hospitalization. 
To seal the diagnosis of mania the patient should have at-least 3 of following symptoms if mood is elevated or 4 if mood is irritable
1.     Pressure of speech or increased talkativeness
2.      Disinhibit ion or lack of social inhibitions
3.      Decreased need for sleep
4.      Increased self-esteem or grandiosity
5.      Distractibility
6.      Reckless behavior like reckless spending or reckless driving
7.      Increased sexual energy
8.   Increased activity
9.   Flight of ideas
The disorder of mania can be without or with psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations

Causes of mania-

No definitive evidence has been found but a disturbance in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin; hormones like thyroid, growth hormone are implicated.
Risk factors for mania-
a)      Genetic factors
b)      Family history
c)      Stressful environment
d)      Stressful life events
e)      Certain personalities
Mania should be differentiated from hypo-mania in which there is no hospitalization, socio-occupational dysfunction and no psychotic symptoms with symptoms lasting less than 4 days.
Course and prognosis
Average duration of maniac episode can be anywhere between 2-4 months. It is a self-limiting illness but chances of relapse are high.

Treatment of mania

Why should mania be treated if it is a self-limiting illness?
      a)      It should be treated because severe socio-occupational dysfunction caused by it and threat to patient and others lives.
      b)      Prevent relapses.
When does a patient need hospitalization?
      1.      Threat to patient’s and other lives and property due to excessive violence.
      2.      Not talking care
      3.      Not willing to take medicines
      4.      Not enough family support
Scales which can be applied for progress of success of treatment include young mania rating scale.
Drugs used in treatment of mania are
      1.      Mood stabilizers such as  lithium, valproate,carbamazepine
      2.      Anti-psychotics
      3.      Benzodiazepines
Usual duration for treatment of mania is 1 year.
Wishing you a long and healthy life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry) 
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit-

Friday, May 10, 2013


        What is compulsive buying? 

It is also called oniomania, shopping addiction or compulsive shopping. This disorder characterized by unscrupulous buying usually with use of several of a lot of credit cards and landing in serious financial difficulty which usually leads to bankruptcy. There is as such no diagnostic category of compulsive buying in both two recognised manuals of ICD 10 and DSM-4.
The proposed criteria for this disorder equate it with impulse control disorder in which there is mounting tension to do the wrong work with anticipatory relief from anxiety.
The patient's time is frequently occupied with buying or urge to buy. This urges are irresistible. The buying is of the amount which cannot be afforded. The items bought are usually not needed. There is marked distress, time consumption and socio occupational dysfunction. The diagnosis is made when there is no other associated physical or mental disorder.
This disorder occurs in about 2% of general population and it commonly affects women. Age of onset is late teens but can also occur in 20’s or 30’s.
The buyer usually tries to control the behavior but in vain. Early diagnosis is useful to prevent further damage.

Treatment of compulsive buying-

Treatment of this disorder is difficult.
        a)      Non medicinal treatment includes supportive therapy and self-help groups like Debtors anonymous.
        b)      Medicinal treatment includes- antidepressants particularly SSRI, anxiolytics, anti-mania drugs, anti-psychotics.
Average debt on a patient estimated is around 25000 dollars
Wishing you a healthy life
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry) 
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit-  

Thursday, May 9, 2013


What is PTSD? 

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with development of certain set of anxiety symptoms after a catastrophic stress. These symptoms remain after at least 1 month of onset to differentiate it from acute stress reaction another anxiety disorder occurring after similar catastrophic stress but remaining for less than 1 month. Symptoms of PTSD can occur with a delay of 1 week to 30 years.
Also referred to as combat neurosis or gulf war syndrome, the prevalence is about 8 percent with women being twice as susceptible as men.
Risk factors for PTSD
        1.      Catastrophic stressor such as wars, natural calamities, tortures and rapes.
        2.      Presence of childhood traumatic experiences  
        3.      Inadequate family support 
        4.      Alcohol
        5.      Genetic vulnerability
        6.      Neuro-chemical changes
        7.       Personality disorders
        8.       Female sex

Symptoms of PTSD

       1.      Recurrent distressing intrusive thoughts, dreams, images or perceptions.
       2.      Feeling as if traumatic event is recurring or flashbacks.    
       3.      Actively avoiding avoid activities, thought, and places related with event.
       4.      Impairment of socio-occupational functioning due to this.
       5.      Characteristics of hyper-arousal including increased startle responses, difficulty in sleep, anger outbursts, decreased concentration, and  hyper vigilance.
              6.       Severe physiological and psychological distress to cues.
Course of PTSD
About 33% improve, 33% remain same and rest 33% worsen if left untreated. Children and elderly have worst prognosis.

Treatment of PTSD

A psychiatric help is must for treatment of PTSD if a victim has been identified with suspicion of having PTSD.
Medicinal treatment include
         a)      SSRI’S such as paroxetine
         b)      TCA’S- imipramine and clomipramine
         c)      Buspirone
         d)      MAOI’S
         e)      Trazadone
         f)       Anti-convulsants- valproate and carbamazepine
         g)      Clonidine
         h)      Propranolol
Non medicinal treatment include
        a)      Systematic desensitization
        b)      EMDR
        c)      Behavior therapy
        d)      Cognitive therapy
Wishing you a very long and healthy life ahead
Dr Hitesh Sharma
MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)
For asking a query or phone/video consultation with me visit-