Why did you choose your particular specialty?
I chose psychiatry because I find the mind to be the most fascinating organ in the human body. In the last decade alone, we’ve come to learn so much about it, and yet there’s still so much we’re discovering even today, particularly why certain people suffer from illnesses of the mind. For me, it’s a constant opportunity to search for answers that could have a huge life-enhancing impact on the millions of people who suffer from mental illness across the world.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working with people and listening to their stories. Each individual’s experience is unique, which makes every day at work new and exciting for me. At the same time, I derive immense personal satisfaction when I am able to see patients recover – that feeling never gets old!
What one thing do you wish every member of the public knew?
I wish that every member of public knew that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. It’s too easy to dismiss mental health problems as something that happens to other people, which leaves those that experience it feeling isolated and ashamed to seek help when they really need it. We need to counter that sense of stigma.
What three traits define you?
Compassion, determination and dedication.
Who is your inspiration?
My father – he is the reason I embarked in a career in medicine and his work ethic and generosity are traits that I strive to emulate every day.
What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of?
Professionally, being awarded a prestigious research grant, which has allowed me to set up an international study investigating new treatments for mood disorders is something that currently stands out – but I’m not done yet!
The proudest moment in my life would have to be the birth of my daughter, although I guess my wife deserves more credit for that particular accomplishment!
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
I would love to be a rock star for a day – it was always a childhood dream! Fortunately, I was able to discover another passion in psychiatry and nowadays my only musical performances are limited to my daughter!
What advances in medicine are you most excited about?
The current research on the possible role of biological processes, such as inflammation, in mental disorders really excites me. Advances in such research could potentially offer a new treatment target for a large proportion of patients who do not respond to existing treatments.
What (health) app would you most recommend?
I really like HappyHealthy, a personal trainer and health advisor on the go. It uses self-tracking, allowing users to rate themselves on various aspects including lifestyle, exercise, nutrition, sleep and mood over the course of the week, identifying what may be affecting their mood. In this way, it allows users to implement principles of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) in their daily routine.
Read Dr Ishrat Husain’s latest article: Recognising and treating depression