Expert Profile - Nishi Bhopal
Dr. Nishi Bhopal
Board certified in Psychiatry(ABPN), Sleep medicine(ABPN), and Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM)
Certified in Ayurveda from Maharishi Ayurveda Association of America
Current Fellow in Integrative Psychiatry through Integrative Psychiatry Institute
Dr. Nishi Bhopal’s Bio:
Dr. Bhopal is board certified in Psychiatry, Sleep Medicine, and Integrative Holistic Medicine. She graduated from the University College Cork School of Medicine, completed her Psychiatric residency training at Henry Ford Health System, and her fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Having grown up in an Indian family in Canada and lived in several different countries, she understands what it means to be multicultural and is attuned to the unique challenges faced by immigrants and expats. She is also a meditator and brings her experiences with yoga and meditation into her clinical practice. Dr. Bhopal believes in the innate healing power of the body, mind, and spirit and strives to help each patient harness their unique strengths throughout the course of the treatment process. She is passionate about learning and dedicated to ongoing education through various training programs including the Maharishi Ayurveda Institute and the Integrative Psychiatry Institute.
What life events or challenges that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major) – whether you’ve experienced them directly or via someone close to you, have had any type of impact on your desire to pursue a career in psychiatry?
When I was a medical student, my favorite aspect of clinical rotations, from pediatrics to geriatrics, was hearing patients’ and their families’ stories. There is an old adage in medicine that the patient will tell you the diagnosis if you simply listen. I became enamored with the act of listening while piecing together clinical signs and symptoms in order to make a diagnosis and help patients move on a path to healing. When it came time to pick a specialty for residency, I chose internal medicine as it seemed a perfect balance between the art of listening and the science of clinical medicine. During internship, I found myself wanting to dive more into my patients’ psychological health in order to understand the impact it was having on their physical health but was constrained by limitations on the time allotted with patients. There was not enough time to be with the patient and just listen. It was then that I started to seriously consider a career in psychiatry. After completing my intern year in internal medicine, I made the switch to a psychiatry residency. Ultimately, I discovered that my own deep desire to feel seen, heard, and understood helped me to connect with patients who were yearning for the same.
How did those events impact you emotionally/morally? How, if at all did those events impact the way you view how our current system teaches us to treat patients with mental health challenges?
As I continued through residency, acquiring knowledge, and learning the art of practicing psychiatry, I also embarked on an inward journey through yoga and meditation. The practice of yoga revealed to me that there are deeper aspects to healing, health, and wellbeing that are not being addressed in modern medicine. I started to become interested in complementary and holistic therapies and learned that there are ancient systems of medicine deeply rooted in wisdom and evidence, full of effective tools that we can offer patients in conjunction with the treatments that are currently being used in conventional psychiatry.
When and why did you decide to actually focus on practicing Integrative Psychiatry, specifically, and how was your decision shaped by the experiences above?
I have been interested in Integrative Psychiatry since residency and have continued to take various courses in integrative modalities since graduating. While the current paradigm in psychiatric care has helped many patients, there are countless others who continue to struggle and are looking for other strategies to achieve optimal health. It has been gratifying to continue acquiring knowledge with which I can continue to support my patients through the healing process.
What methods or practices do you utilize to help individuals get/feel better?
My approach to treating mental health is holistic and starts with a comprehensive history. Throughout treatment, we address physical health, healthy digestion being a cornerstone of that, lifestyle, including diet and exercise, and aspects of the mind including trauma, patterns of thinking and behavior, purpose, and spirituality. A laboratory workup is an essential part of the evaluation to assess for any medical issues that might be causing or exacerbating psychiatric symptoms. In addition to psychiatry, I am also board-certified in sleep medicine, so assessing for and treating sleep and circadian rhythm disorders is another essential part of the plan. I also incorporate principles of Ayurveda, the ancient system of medicine from India, into treatment; this may include specific foods, herbs, supplements, yogic breathing techniques, and meditation practices. While psychiatric medications are not the sole focus of treatment, they are a tool in the toolbox that may be used as a support during the course of treatment.
How did people react when you share this Integrative/Holistic approach with them – whether it be patients or other doctors?
Patients have responded to this approach with great enthusiasm and receptivity. In fact, it is patients who have been seeking a more holistic approach to mental health and the field of psychiatry is just starting to catch up to their needs. When patients are offered methods to address the root cause of their symptoms, they leave feeling motivated, hopeful, and empowered.
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