Check Out The Radio Interview Transcript
KBay Host – As we continue here on South Bay Sunday, yeah here it is that most wonderful time of the year ends for some of us, that most depressing time of the year. Depression is a big problem in the winter time. So we’re gonna take a look at that this morning from Savant Care Incorporated. The Savant Care team is headed up by Sonia Parikh, M.D., a Stanford trained Psychiatrist and co-founder and Medical Director of Savant Care Incorporated and Vidushi Savant, who is also a Stanford trained Psychiatrist and Director and co-founder of Savant Care. They are taking a new approach to both mental illness and depression and the various things that ail us round the clock. And especially, this time of the year. So, the doctors are in…Nice to have you here. Is there one specific way or are there many ways to deal with depression? How do you do it?
Vidushi Savant – We deal with it based on what the reason could be, that leads to such feelings. You know…umm…there can be a lot of psychological, emotional factors involved like you know most people around the age of 40 or more have suffered important, significant loss in their life and…umm…you know Christmas, Thanksgiving are time of reminiscence thinking about you know your loved ones, things you used to do, rituals or a family, things you did together.
KBay Host – You miss Mamma, Grandma
Vidushi Savant – Yeah…yeah…and you know it brings out those feelings and then, there can always be a component of sealed effect of disorder where people get depressed around this time of the year because of the changes in, in the day…basically how much sunlight a person is getting and its a very biochemical process that happens in the brain…ummm…and you know there could be other reasons like in general someone who has depression thinks about you know misses mom misses grandmom and gets more depressed or you know alcohol is another one. People tend to celebrate with a lot of alcohol on holidays sometimes and substance use in general can make people more disinhibited and if you…if this is something thats been on your mind then you might act on it because nothings holding you back.
KBay Host – So its interesting you mentioned alcohol for holiday season. They call it a little holiday cheer but actually its a little holiday depressant. Isn’t it?
Sonia Parikh – Mmm hmmm
Vidushi Savant – Mmm hmm. It is. You know may be the first couple of drinks make you happier but from then on it just is a depressant for the whole brain.
KBay Host – Interesting. So, Savantcare!
Vidushi Savant – Mmm hmm.
Sonia Parikh – Mmm hmmm
KBay Host – Tell us something about Savant Care and how you address these problems?
Sonia Parikh – So, Savant Care is a group practise that we have recently started and we are kind of taking a more high tech approach to our practise so that we increase the efficiency of our treatment and the quality of our treatment. You know throughout, Dr. Savant and my training at Stanford we have been kind of aware of the fact that Psychiatric care of today doesn’t look much different from that of 20 years ago and being in the heart of Silicon Valley we have set out to improve the efficiency and quality of Psychiatric treatment through the use of cutting edge technologies. One part of that is, you know, we are currently working on an Electronic Medical Record(EMR) that tracks patient’s symptoms, medications, vitals, life events over time graphically. So psychiatry at this point is a very descriptive field…you know doctors, we, we write our notes about patients but what our technology…one of them that we are developing will allow us to really see patients graphically overtime and really be able to see how our treatments you know…track the utility of our treatments and the impact of it…environmental stress is on our patients’ health on a single graph over time.
KBay Host – Over a long period of time and then you can look at their behaviour and then follow that behaviour
Sonia Parikh – Exactly…
Vidushi Savant – Yeah I think that is amazing. You know doctors are very dependent on going back into the chart and reading their note and sometimes the notes can be very descriptive, over descriptive and sometimes they can be minimalistic and not end up giving us the right amount or kind of information that we need to make a decision. For example if I started a patient on an anti-depressant, 5 years ago and he felt better and at some point he left the treatment because maybe he was feeling better and then 2 years down he came back. I started another anti-depressant, he has side effects but he got better and then…so you know treatment when on 5 years down the lane we have tried five different anti-depressants and we don’t know which worked the best. Now I don’t have to look into the chart and read each note from 5 years of the treatment. I can just actually look at the chart and see when he was on anti-depressant number 1, that’s the best response we got and for some reason we didn’t try it again and that’s maybe where we should go.
Sonia Parikh – In…and in addition in psychiatry is much more complex and you know just trying this medication, that medication. You know people have, you know life events over time divorce, loss you know… ummm you know drugs can…, drug use, alcohol use and so this system that we are developing really you know puts those data points in place across a patient’s life span from age 0 to 100, so we can kind of see all of those different factors you know inner mingling as we choose our treatments.
KBay Host – You know if you never had any therapy like that you tend to picture yourself laying on a couch for hours, talking to some psychotherapist whose gotta a notepad.
Vidushi Savant – Exactly
KBay Host – So what’s interesting to me is that you are actually making out a more exact science. Is that fair to say? I think it is, but you know if you are old school that means maybe you are keeping tabs and notepads and you have to go back to your notes and ask yourself is that an F or an S.
Sonia Parikh – Right…
—Smiles and Giggles—
Vidushi Savant – Thats what we have been going through for the last 5 years.
KBay Host – Its like life or death. Smiles.
Vidushi Savant – We want something different now.
Sonia Parikh – Yeah…
KBay Host – Thats terrific and I know theres a lot of things you can do to fight depression. Without being to specific tell me if I wake up say some Sunday morning this Sunday morning depressed what can I do, something basic to fight depression?
Sonia Parikh – Well you know, yes number 1, you can get help if you, you know your mental health has over time really shown to be impacting your functioning. But you know just if you are waking up on a…on a Sunday and you are feeling down there actually validated research has shows, you know getting some fresh air, going out for walks, getting some sunlight can really help during this time of you know, kind of darkness…
KBay Host – Exercise…
Sonia Parikh – Exercise is very validated and we even prescribe you know for people who have what we call seasonal affective disorder which is you know depression that has a seasonal component to it where you know they feel sad and down and have the depressive symptoms repeatedly kind of during the winter months. There can also be a seasonal affective component during the spring months and that looks a little bit different, ummm…but for those kind patients we actually prescribe Light Therapy.
KBay Host – Light Therapy…that is something new to me. Tell us something about Light Therapy.
Vidushi Savant – I find it fascinating. So, basically it’s a specific kind of intensity of lights so what works is above 6000 lx to about 10000 lx and basically it looks like a regular lamp but it’s got a special bulb in it and you just sit in front of it every morning for you know 30-90 minutes and you have your breakfast or maybe read a newspaper you know you don’t have to sit and just stare into the light and that’s all and then you just go about your day.
KBay Host – So that’s about the presence of lights.
Sonia parikh – Mmm hmm
Vidushi Savant – Yeah and what it does is…ummm…I was actually very sceptical about it until I used it. I looked at the data, the data looked good. Its promising, so I was like well…I had a patient and he was like Doc I…I just feel so depressed in the winter, I am just so tired of everything. Is there something for me and I said yeah sure. Let’s give the light box a try. I was secretly skeptical but he came back a month later and he was just feeling so much better and what can be better than something that you don’t have to take like medication everyday you don’t have side effects from you know I, I thought it was amazing and you know but the right kind of patient it really works. I have seen it in action.
KBay Host – I think most people would like to be able to deal with their depression or other issues without having to take a pill.
Sonia Parikh – Yes, agreed.
Vidushi Savant – I know
Sonia Parikh – Absolutely…
Vidushi Savant – And I, I personally…don’t like pushing pills. If I can use something else, I’d rather go there first.
Sonia Parikh – Mmm hmm…
Vidushi Savant – And you know light therapy gives me that option to offer the patient that hey you know this is something maybe you can try and it seems to work for this kind of thing…but the purposes I think that as the sun…sunrise and sunset time you know that the time during which the sun is out grows shorter we want to extend that so natural light is the best source but what do you do in Chicago in winter, you know, I mean it’s dreary for days and days and there is no sun and there is a lot of snow and kind of you know dull days and that’s where the light bulb is very helpful. I did part of my training in Chicago and then I moved to the bay area and I did some more training and what I noticed was that the bay area seems to have and this is just how subjectively it felt it was. The emergency department with depressive suicidal patients was much more busy in Chicago as it was at Stanford. I mean it was an obvious difference that I, that I noticed. The days are a little bit longer and the sun is much brighter here then it was in Chicago.
KBay Host – So here we are in the Silicon valley, not Chicago. We love our innovation, the record keeping, the light therapy you are talking about. So run advice a little bit, the treatment that you can expect at Savant Care?
Vidushi Savant – Mmm…hmm.
Sonia Parikh – Well ummm…you know that was just one that electronic health record was one aspect of our…our practise and we are also planning on really just integrating all of the most recent technologies that have been proven helpful for mental health into our practise in addition to…you know providing just the traditional psychotherapy and…and medication care. Some of those more innovative technologies include transcranial magnetic stimulation which has been proven for refractory depression where you know you kind of put magnets on the lobes of the brain and help treat refractory depression. Other examples like biofeedback is something that we are hoping to integrate as well. We are also planning down the road to do some tele-psychiatry so we can reach rural population. So really integrating technology wherever we can to help improve the quality and efficiency of our care in addition to providing just the the traditional…ummm….
KBay Host – Psychiatric care can be such a hit and miss thing so have you focussed in it what really works or is it still a hit and miss?
Vidushi Savant – We do what is evidence based, where the data is. Thats where we spend our energy and time so far whatever we are doing.
KBay Host – Well the statistic is one in five of its have some sort of mental illness and if thats the case, how do we know it? How do you find who to help and who not to help?
Vidushi Savant – Well psychiatrists often end up seeing patients who are referred from other doctors, who screen those patients and realise that oh this patient is not doing so well emotionally and they need extra help and as a general practitioner maybe I can provide some…I am going to send them to psychiatrist. So we end up seeing the more severe end of the spectrum as a rule but I think in general awareness of you know that this can hit anybody. Its not some sort of a weakness of mind you know it’s it’s a very chemical process that happened in your brain and you could have different reasons for having it like there could be genetic factors there could be stresses from your life and at some point you know something happens in the brain that this chemical process starts and you have no control over it and there are some ways to beat it but after a certain point if you can then you need to realise that this is not some weakness of mine and you need help and you should get it.
KBay Host – So the person listening to us at home this Sunday morning, I have some doubts about whether or not I need help? How do I reach out how do I get help?
Vidushi Savant – Well, I want you to know that there are treatments out there that work and its not all hopeless because when once depression hits you see half glass empty so you know a lot of people don’t even try because they feel so defeated so I want you to know that you are not defeated there are medications there are treatments that work and you can feel better
KBay Host – So maybe I am hearing you, I am listening, I am hearing you but I am still in the dark, no pun intended.
Laughs and giggles
KBay Host – So what do I do?
Vidushi Savant – I want you to pick up the phone and call a psychiatrist, call… call me you know, call any psychiatrist who is conveniently close to you. Call your general practitioner and ask if I can see a psychiatrist or psychologist. Call your insurance to find out who can I see?
KBay Host – So in other words, reach out
Sonia Parikh – Yes, reach out.
Vidushi Savant – Reach out is the word
Sonia Parikh – Even family members can do this on behalf of their loved ones
KBay Host – Depression can be a terrible thing especially during the holidays I have a friend who says he feels trapped inside a bit all side effect
Vidushi Savant – People often feel hopeless they feel worthless day they feel guilty for things they shouldn’t feel guilty or they…you know…they isolate themselves from family members because they don’t want to burden other people with how they are feeling and once you…you know human beings are social animals they are not meant for being alone all the time by themselves. So isolation doesn’t work in their favor or there is a general lack of enjoyment, lack of interesting things so and when you just give it up thinking while it’s not the same then you know it…it hurts you even harder.
Sonia Parikh – And feeling trapped is one of the common feelings before kind of a suicide attempt and hopelessness is one of the most common threads amongst all psychiatric diagnosis in people who have attempted suicide. The hopelessness and the sense of feeling trapped.
KBay Host – So a good start might be to visit your website which is www. savantcare.com. If only as a mental exercise.
Vidushi Savant – Yes you can also see the prospective section that we have been writing articles in local newspapers on depression and mentioned stigma so it’s you know it’s it’s a little bit of information but I think it’s a good resource to maybe start.
KBay Host – So ok as the winter gets darker and drearier and maybe your mood coincides it might be good to check www. savantcare.com. Sonia parikh M.D., Vidushi Savant M.D., Thanks for being with us today.
Up next for disabled folks having a little fun and getting a little exercise can be a problem. You can participate in the coming changes and improvements in the San Jose parks and rec department therapeutic services. We will talk about that on how you can stop the buzz for toys for tuts this coming Saturday with San Jose city council member Ash Kalra and South Bay Sunday continues