Mental Health Myths

Debunking and dispelling mental health myths.


Have you heard this one before? I have! Mental illness has NOTHING to do with being lazy or being weak. It is not a character flaw. Mental disorders are brought about by the interactions of different biological, psychological and social factors. These include genes, physical illness, injury, brain chemistry, family history of mental health problems as well as life experiences (trauma, history of abuse, job loss, loss of a loved one, separation, divorce etc). Seeking and accepting help is a sign of resilience and strength.


I was recently asked: Do antidepressants create withdrawal symptoms when patients stop taking them? Do you feel pressured to taper off or keep a patient on antidepressants?

Some patients experience discontinuation symptoms when coming off of certain antidepressants. This is most common with antidepressants, such as Paxil, that have shorter half-lives, and in situations where an individual has been on an antidepressant for an extended period of time.

We also tend to see some discontinuation symptoms with some of the Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), such as Effexor XR. However, despite this, I have yet to encounter a situation where I am unable to terminate treatment with an antidepressant in a person who is clinically stable and in remission from depressive or anxiety symptoms.

The choice to discontinue antidepressants is influenced by an individual’s clinical state, his/her preference to discontinue, and the presence or absence of major life stressors. I have never felt pressured to continue or terminate antidepressant pharmacotherapy because of discontinuation symptoms.

For medications that have a tendency to cause some discomfort while discontinuing, I typically wean off of them slower, and have more frequent medication management appointments to monitor the effects and/or any change in clinical state. By doing this, I am better able to understand any positive or negative effects that my patient experiences while decreasing, and ultimately, discontinuing treatment with an antidepressant.


FALSE! If you know of individuals who struggle with mental health issues there are several things that you can do to be of support. Some supportive things include:

Encouraging them to seek professional care with a psychiatrist, therapist, or other health care provider.


Providing moral support.

Asking them how they might need help.

When appropriate, contacting family members so that they are aware and can be of support as needed.

Encouraging them to utilize resources (and maybe helping them to figure out what resources are available).

Validating their experience.

As you can see, there are many things that you can do to help those who are struggling. As a psychiatrist, I love it when my patients have a strong support system. However, I always caution against the support system being “too involved“ such that their own mental health is negatively impacted. Please don’t feel like you have to fix or change the mental health of your loved ones. That is too great of a burden to carry alone!

The Pandemic: Q&A and Tips

I was asked some questions, so I wanted to share my thoughts.


Children with ADHD typically thrive with routine and predictable structure, which allows for them to understand and be aware of their daily expectations in a consistent manner. With this pandemic came a huge, sudden change in structure, pushing most children into online learning and upending their general routine.

The pandemic has significantly limited physical activities in which children can participate. Exercise is a great way for children to “burn off some energy” and temper some hyperactive behaviors. In addition, exercise increases dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that stimulant medications target; helps to regulate the amygdala, which contributes to healthier emotional responses; and increases prefrontal cortex volume, which is responsible for executive functioning tasks, planning, and judgement. So with limited physical activity, these protective factors are diminished.

ADHD is highly heritable, which means that many children who have ADHD may have a parent who struggles with similar issues. Many parents with ADHD have struggled with organization, multitasking, their own changes in their routines, etc.

Given that many parents have been working from home and/or have little experience with online learning, many are unable to provide a consistent, structured, non-stimulating environment to mimic what their child may have been receiving while at school. As a result, there tend to be more distractions with online learning– screens, noise in the environment, other children who may be engaging in other tasks, etc.

It is fairly common to see children with ADHD also struggle with anxiety and/or depression. As a result of the unpredictability and uncertainty that is inherent within this pandemic, many have experienced an exacerbation of these symptoms, which ultimately affects their ADHD symptoms. 

I further discuss all about how ADHD symptoms, for many children, have worsened during the pandemic. I talk about the reasons for this, what kids with ADHD need, and how parents can help in Verywell Family’s recent article on the topic. Read more about Verywell Family’s “Study Reveals ADHD Symptoms Worsening During COVID Pandemic” here.


an anti-anxiety technique where you imagine the sights, sounds, tastes, feel, and smell of a place that you find comforting or relaxing; take a deep breath, close your eyes, and transport yourself   
there. how do you feel?

This is a great technique to work through any anxiety you may experience. Give it a try and let me know what you think!


As a psychiatrist, I have to tell you I am scared about the devastating mental health crisis that we seem to be on path to experience (and in some places are already living). This pandemic is not like other mental health disasters, and as a nation we are not doing enough to address its mental health effects. Anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, loss, abuse, substance use, etc. These are just some of the mental health concerns that have really surged since this pandemic began.

I recently read an article by Jacob Stern that really resonated with me. He said, “already, a third of Americans are feeling severe anxiety, according to Census Bureau data, and nearly a quarter show signs of depression. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the pandemic had negatively affected the mental health of 56 percent of adults. In April, texts to a federal emergency mental-health line were up 1,000 percent from the year before. The situation is particularly dire for certain vulnerable groups—health-care workers, COVID-19 patients with severe cases, people who have lost loved ones—who face a significant risk of post-traumatic stress disorder. In overburdened intensive-care units, delirious patients are seeing chilling hallucinations. At least two overwhelmed emergency medical workers have taken their own life.”


This has been such a hot topic of debate recently, as this decision to reopen schools in the fall is a very important and impactful one.Earlier this week in Orange County, California, where I’m from, the Board of Education voted to return students back to school in the fall without requiring social distancing or masks.

As a physician, I was completely shocked by this recommendation! It is extremely reckless, and in some ways, perpetuates the “pandemic of misinformation” that minimizes the need for masks and social distancing.

If schools are to re-open, it is imperative that children wear masks, are socially distanced, wash hands frequently, and are in classrooms with fewer students. There needs to be adequate funding and resources allocated to allow for these measures to take effect.

From a social, emotional, and developmental perspective, it is so important for children to have face-to-face and peer-to-peer interactions with other students and teachers. However, not at the expense of their health. While allowing for students to return back to school in the fall is ideal for so many reasons (learning, more balance in life, separation between home and school, parent burnout, etc.), it has to be done in a safe manner!

In areas like California currently, where there is a surge of cases of COVID-19, it makes me nervous to think about schools reopening. And as a parent, at this snapshot of time, I wouldn’t be comfortable sending my child to school, despite wishing that I could and understanding in what he is missing out.

In my opinion, schools should only reopen if all safety measures are in place and there is an effective system for early identification and intervention for students and teachers who may get sick as a result of the pandemic.


According to L1ght, an organization that monitors online harassment and hate speech, there has been a 70% increase in cyberbullying in the past few months. 

Some of the reasons for this increase include: more time is spent online as much of learning/school is done virtually; more leisure time is spent online; boredom; an increase in stress; isolation; issues within friend groups (which may be harder to resolve when not physically seeing each other); a decrease in screen time supervision. 

The gravity of cyberbullying is no different than other types of bullying, as it can lead children to feel overwhelmed, powerless, humiliated, isolated, anxious, depressed and even worthless. Victims of cyberbullying may even retaliate, which only feeds a vicious bully-victim cycle. At its worst, cyberbullying can lead to “bullycide,” or death by suicide when bullying is the primary factor involved.

It is imperative that both parents and school administrators (when appropriate) are involved in managing cyberbullying situations. Parents, please:

Talk to your kids. 
Check in with them about how they are doing emotionally. 
Listen, just listen. 
Have screentime structure and guidelines. 
Adjust privacy settings as necessary. 
Urge your kids to connect socially, albeit remotely. 
Encourage your kids to be open. 

The most important thing in any cyberbullying situation is that a child feels safe, heard, validated, advocated for, and protected.

Black Lives Matter

“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.” – Kofi Anan

I have spent the majority of this week being aware, listening, helping, treating, educating, understanding, and reflecting. Reflecting about diversity, inclusivity, adversity, access, voice, and purpose. 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always considered myself to be a global citizen. My actions impact others and others’ actions impact me. If there is one thing that this pandemic and this difficult time have taught us, it’s that we are all interconnected. 

And as diverse as we all might be, we are all part of one human race. Diversity is beautiful. As a society, we must work hard to appreciate, learn, understand, and celebrate our differences, whilst recognizing that at our core, we really have so many similarities.

“When the founders of our country wrote the Constitution, they began with three revolutionary words: We the People. They began with the extraordinary idea that the future of a country is its people’s future—and their fate will be its fate.

This is an idea that invests in citizenship a profound majesty, an individual dignity, and a lifelong responsibility of each man and woman to one another.

This is an idea that invests in equality the assurance that when opportunity is shared, it desolations not divide but rather multiplies, advancing the horizons of each individual and each industry.

This is an idea that testifies powerfully to the truth that when we turn our backs on one another, we turn the world against us, and we leave ourselves each to fight alone… but that when every man and woman’s plight is our plight, then we find at every had brothers and sisters to fight for us, and at our sides.

This idea—e pluribus unum— out of many, one— insists that through our sacred bond with one another, a people can climb to a height undreamt of by the tyrannical past, and that in that light, all rights, human rights and civil rights, rights of law and rights on conscience, are, at the beginning and the end, what makes us all one, together.”

- Harry Belafonte

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

We can, will, and have to do better. The future of our nation and this world depend on it. What changes will you work toward today?

Kneeling for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. With my physician colleagues. In solidarity. Remembering those who have lost their lives due to racial injustice. I pledge to do my part—to listen, learn, reflect, and advocate.

– Dr. Shivani Chopra

WHAT SHOULD YOU NOT SAY TO A RACIAL TRAUMA SURVIVOR? When it comes to how to respond to racial trauma survivors, the single most important thing to remember is validation. Validation, or the act of recognizing that an individual’s emotions and perspectives about a situation are valid, is extremely important for one who is looking to offer support. Many racial trauma survivors feel a wide range of emotions including, but not limited to: anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, frustration, depression, and confusion. Statements that are invalidating can minimize many of these emotions and them worse. In addition, they don’t allow for survivors to cope with their emotions in their own space and time. Examples of invalidating and minimizing statements that one should not say to racial trauma survivors include:

“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

“Come on, it couldn’t have been that bad.”

“It’s time to move on. You’re stronger than this. “

“What did you do to create this situation?”

“Stop acting like the victim. You are a survivor. “

“This happened to so and so, and s/he is fine, so you’ll be fine too.”

“Stop being so negative.”

“I can’t be here or help you anymore.”

“When will you stop acting like this?”

“It’s really depressing to be around you.”

“This is just life. It happens to all of us.”

Is there anything else you would add?

PTSD Awareness Day

Let’s bring awareness to PTSD on this day.

PTSD Awareness Day is observed every year on June 27th to raise awareness and understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The date was chosen in tribute to the date of birth of a North Dakota National Guard member who suffered from PTSD and who sadly took his own life in 2007 following two tours in Iraq. This disorder, which is a condition that many veterans and non-veterans alike suffer from, is the result of experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event(s). Symptoms vary from individual to individual and may include intrusion symptoms such as nightmares and flashbacks; avoidance behaviors to mitigate thinking about or feelings related to the trauma; negative changes in thinking or mood such as feeling isolated, having a decreased interest in activities, and exaggerating blame of oneself; and alterations in arousal and reactivity, such as feeling more irritable, being hypervigilant, and struggling with focus.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can affect people of all ages, including children. There can be various events in a child’s life that could possibly trigger PTSD: something that happened directly to the child, something that happened to someone close to the child, or something the child saw. Examples of personal or indirect events that could have an impact on a child’s mental health are accidents, an invasive medical procedure, a natural disaster, bullying, neglect, emotional or physical abuse.

A child suffering from PTSD may relive the trauma over and over again, have frequent nightmares, flashbacks, and scary thoughts/memories related to the past event. 

PTSD is usually diagnosed if symptoms occur for more than a month, and its treatment depends on the child’s symptoms, age, and general health.

PTSD, in children, can look like:

Irritability and aggression

New phobias and anxieties

Losing previously acquired skills

Aches and pains with no apparent cause

Somber play

Acting out the trauma through play, stories, or drawings

Fear of being separated from their parent

Sleep problems and nightmares

If you or someone you know is affected by PTSD, don’t suffer in silence, and please ask for help.

Men’s Health Week

It’s men’s health week! Let’s talk about mental health.

On this eve of Father’s Day, it seems appropriate to highlight some men’s mental health statistics about depression.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health and Mental Health America, over 6,000,000 males struggle with depression, and the actual number could be even higher as male depression often goes undiagnosed. Men ages 35-64 years have the highest risk of suicide.

Men are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work or hobbies instead of sadness or feelings of worthlessness. Some symptoms to watch out for include:

Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness

Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite

Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

Increased worry or feeling stressed

Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs

Sadness or hopelessness

Suicidal thoughts

Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

Engaging in high-risk activities

Aches, headaches, digestive problems without a clear cause

Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

If you or anyone you know are struggling with these feelings, I urge you please to seek professional help. For more resources, please visit the NIMH Help for Mental Illnesses webpage here.

Shivani Chopra, MD

Dr. Shivani Chopra is a psychiatrist who specializes in child, adolescent, adult, and forensic psychiatry. She is triple board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in general adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Dr. Chopra provides treatment for a wide range of complex mental health issues in children, adolescents, and young adults, using medications, psychotherapy such as CBT, diet, exercise, and alternative modalities of treatment. Her priority is the well being of her patients and their families, and she prides herself in providing the absolute highest quality of psychiatric care, focusing on the details, but never losing sight of the big picture. In addition to this, Dr. Chopra also performs forensic psychiatric evaluations for a wide variety of criminal, child dependency, and civil matters.

Dr. Chopra obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating with distinction. While at UCLA, Dr. Chopra participated in psychological and breast cancer research, was an Assistant Resident Director, and served as Secretary General for the Model United Nations program. She then received her Doctor of Medicine degree (M.D.) from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. While at Penn State, Dr. Chopra served as the President of Penn State’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), received an international travel grant for cross cultural medical research, and was involved in Lion Care, a student run clinic that provided medical and mental health care to underserved populations in Pennsylvania.

Dr. Chopra completed her adult psychiatry residency at the University of California, Davis, and completed further subspecialty fellowship training in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California, Irvine. During her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Chopra served as the Chief Fellow of recruitment. Dr. Chopra then completed a second fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of Southern California (USC) Institute of Psychiatry, Law, and Behavioral Sciences. While at USC, she served as a Clinical Instructor at the USC Keck School of Medicine, teaching psychiatry residents and medical students. Also, she gave national presentations on the psychiatric effects of bullying.

In addition to being the Founder of the Premier Mind Institute in Newport Beach, Dr. Chopra formerly served as the Medical Director for the Adolescent Partial Hospitalization program at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She currently continues to serve as volunteer clinical faculty at the UCI School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, where she teaches and supervises child and adolescent psychiatry fellows. Dr. Chopra has also been on the Executive Council for the Southern California Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for the past seven years, and currently holds a position of past President of this organization.

Today I Choose to Live With…

Many times, we can choose with what emotion we live. How do you choose to live today?

ENDURANCE. One of my biggest tests of endurance has come from my training to be a physician. Did you know that to be a doctor in the United States, an individual has to complete an undergraduate education, medical school, residency, and maybe even a fellowship or two (this is a subspecialization in a field in which you are wanting to gain more knowledge). In my case, I did four years of college (go Bruins!), four years of medical school, three years of an adult psychiatry residency, two years of a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship, and one year of a forensic psychiatry fellowship. Each step along the way, there were incredible, amazing moments, and some very challenging ones. It was endurance that kept me going and helped me to stay true to my journey. I am so glad that I am done with those 27 years of education and training :-)!

LONELINESS. This word has been on my mind because I’ve been recently listening to Dr. Vivek Murthy’s book, Together, in which he speaks about loneliness being the root cause of so much emotional and physical pain. On a recent interview with NPR, Dr. Murthy said, “I found that people who struggle with loneliness, that that’s associated with an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and even premature death.” He discusses the fundamental need for human connection. “Thousands of years ago, our ancestors knew this. They knew there was safety in numbers. And when we were separated from each other, it places our survival at risk. And it puts us in a physiologic stress state, which, when it’s short, when it’s acute, it can lead us to seek out connection. But when it’s prolonged, then it can become a chronic state of stress, which leads to inflammation in our body, damages tissues in blood vessels and, ultimately, damages our physical, as well as our emotional, health.” Do you agree? I know that I do! In my opinion, it is all about human and social connection!

COMPASSION. The Dalai Lama says, “if you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” I don’t think more true words have been spoken. You know they say that individuals can forget details of situations, but we don’t usually forget how others make us feel. I know that when others have practiced compassion towards me, my memory of that particular situation is stronger and my respect for that individual is greater. When was the last time you practiced or received compassion?

FEAR. Such a short word, but such an intense emotion. Fear is definitely something I am hearing and reading about much more recently, especially in the context of COVID-19. For so many people, fear is a result of feeling a lack of control. While it is true that many things are not in our control, if you break down situations and try to focus on the things you can control, this can reduce fear. So, for example, it is true that so much of this current pandemic is unknown. And of course, this can lead to some significant fear for many. However, if you focus on the things you can control (ie. social distancing, washing hands thoroughly, wearing masks, staying home, etc.), hopefully this decreases fear some. Next time you’re in a situation that induces fear, try to focus on the parts of the situation that you can control.

ANGER. In so many ways, this is a normal emotion. However, it can feel so uncomfortable to be angry. Do you ever wonder what the origin of anger is? For so many people, anger is often the manifestation of deep hurt. And it can be so difficult for people when they express extreme anger because that often leads to more conflict, which in turn, deepens hurt even more. One tip that can be effective to decrease the expression of extreme anger is to remove yourself from a situation when you start to feel like you are getting angry. This allows you to get to a calmer place, reframe your thinking, and maybe even get a different perspective. It is still important to process and effectively communicate about the hurt that led to the anger, but sometimes, time and space can be so helpful to process exactly what you might be feeling!

STRENGTH. This word has come up for me a lot both in my personal and professional life during this past week. When you think about the word strength, what image comes to mind? For me, I think about being physically strong and emotionally tough. But in reality, there are so many different types of strength. There is physical strength, emotional strength, social strength, family strength, parental strength, relationship strength, community strength, intellectual strength, financial strength, global strength, professional strength, among others. And these various forms of strength hold different meanings for different people. I am so grateful to feel these strengths at key times in my life, and really believe that they make up a big part of who I am. At various stages of life, I draw on these strengths to keep me moving forward and to give me momentum. What sources of strength do you draw from?

EMPATHY. What does it mean to be empathic? Is it the same thing as being compassionate and sympathetic? The short answer is, no. Although it is great to be compassionate and sympathetic! When I was in training many years ago, one of my supervisors emphasized that being empathic is trying to truly understand someone else’s experience. I don’t know if it was the way she said it or when she said it, but those words really resonated with me. I think pretty much of my life the word empathy comes up either personally or professionally. While I do believe that the only people who fully understand a circumstance or situation are those who are involved, I think it’s important to try to understand other’s perspectives, feelings, experiences. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes. If more people operated from a place of empathy, this world would be kinder, more caring, and more unified.

GRATITUDE. Such a simple word, but sometimes so hard to practice, especially during challenging times. I can’t tell you how in how many situations I’ve heard people express frustration about our current state of affairs- having to socially distance, not being able to see friends/family, not being able to eat out at a restaurant, having to wear a mask, not being able to go to a mall/beach/park, not being able to “do what I want, when I want,” and the list goes on. I can understand these frustrations, and they are valid. And sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the negative. I often tell people that if you are going to look at the negative, it’s important to look at the neutral and positive, too. It’s imperative to have more balanced thinking. So for those who are struggling during this pandemic and are grieving the “loss of normal life,” I challenge you to practice gratitude. In this current situation, what are you feeling grateful for? One way to make it easier to consistently practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Consider writing down three things at the end of every day for which you feel grateful. What are those for you today? For me, today I feel grateful for being healthy emotionally and physically, being able to provide psychiatric care to my patients via telemedicine, and spending time with my supportive family.

COVID-19 Self Care Tips

It is so important to prioritize self care always, but especially during this pandemic.

BELLY BREATHING. Belly breathing is a great exercise that both children and adults can practice to feel calm. Did you know that this type of breathing can actually reduce heart rate to trigger a relaxation response? Here’s what to do: sit or lay in a comfortable position; with your mouth closed, breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds; breathe out for four seconds or longer; and pause. Repeat as needed.

MEDITATION. Meditation is a simple practice that can be used to promote relaxation and help with stress reduction. It has been shown to help with multiple disease processes including: anxiety, chronic pain, depression, hypertension, headaches, and insomnia.

There are many different types of meditation, with the three most commonly used techniques being mantra meditation, guided meditation, and mindfulness meditation. 
Mantra meditation uses a word or phrase that individuals can repeat silently to minimize distracting thoughts. One of the most commonly used words is “aum” or “om.” Guided meditation involves using imagery, and encourages individuals to imagine places or situations that they find relaxing or to which they have positive associations. Examples include the ocean, one’s room, mountains, other scenes of nature, etc.

Mindfulness meditation focuses on individuals being in the present, more aware of their thoughts and emotions, accepting these thoughts, and letting them pass without any judgement.

STAY CONNECTED. Loneliness can be detrimental to our physical and emotional health. And during this pandemic, many have grieved being with family and friends. It’s so so important to stay connected! Reach out to a friend or family member to schedule a phone call or video chat. Use this time to connect with old friends to whom you’ve been meaning to reach out. If you are a parent, schedule a virtual play date for your children. And most importantly, in all of these interactions, please try truly to be present and connected. Time is valuable and irreplaceable. It can be such a blessing to use this time to develop and foster relationships.

EXERCISE. Did you know that exercising 3 to 5 times a week for 30 minutes at a time can reduce depression and anxiety symptoms? Exercise directly affects the brain. It increases blood flow to the brain and can stimulate new brain cell growth. Being active in this way releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins which can enhance an individual’s sense of well-being. What is your favorite type of exercise?

JOURNAL. When an individual writes in a journal, it can be so helpful for s/he to put on paper some of the many thoughts that are preoccupying his/her mind. Just “releasing” these thoughts from the confines of the mind can help one to overthink things less. 
According to Dr. Pennebaker, a social psychologist at UT Austin, journaling, or “expressive writing” as he calls it can promote a stronger immune health; lead to better sleep habits; improve mental health; regulate blood pressure; and reduce pain caused by chronic diseases. He says, “One of the brain’s functions is to help us understand events in our lives. Writing helps construct a narrative to contextualize trauma and organize ideas. Until we do this, the brain replays the same non-constructive though patterns over and over and we become stuck. Writing about grief and trauma helps achieve closure which tells the brain its work is done. This closure frees us to move forward.” To begin an expressive writing practice, try to write for just 15 minutes a day for three days about a single issue to wish to address. Some questions to consider: Why are you feeling what you are feeling? Does this relate to any life events? What is the significance? What makes this feel better or worse?

POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS. Do you ever wonder about the origin of emotions? Why do we feel what we feel? This is exactly the question that led me to want to pursue a career in psychiatry. Human emotions and behavior patterns are fascinating! The answer to my questions is complex but the simple gist is that we feel what we do because of our thoughts. The principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) suggest that our thoughts influence our emotions, and our emotions influence our behavior. So why is this relevant? Because positive affirmations are positive thoughts that you repeat about yourself, how you want to be, how you want your circumstances to be, etc. It’s a whole lot of positive thoughts! So based on the principles of CBT, if you think these positive thoughts, you will feel more positively, which will reflect in your actions/behavior. Totally makes sense, doesn’t it? What are three positive affirmations that you will repeat today?

Congratulations, Class of 2020!

A word of advice to the graduating class of 2020.

Hi everyone! I’m a bit late to this campaign, but still wanted to share my thoughts. Congratulations to the class of 2020! You are graduating during such a unique time in medicine, and have the potential to make a very meaningful impact.

Things I wish I knew intern year:

Just because you’re a “doctor” now, doesn’t mean you have all of the answers. Please ask tons of questions! Remember, intern year and residency are about learning, education, and training.

Likely, your career in medicine will be a marathon, not a sprint. Please pace yourself accordingly.

Read, A LOT!

Be a team player.

Spend some time with your co-interns. It’s so important to have a social support system during intern year. You may find that some of the relationships you curate during intern year will be lifelong.

Keep your eyes and mind open to what interests you. Your career in medicine can have many different paths, and there are endless possibilities. If you find something that really interests you, search for a mentor within that field.

Prioritize your health and well-being. It is easy to put these two on the back burner. But you can’t take care of others if you haven’t taken care of yourself.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own path. Push yourself to be better than you were yesterday. Set small, tangible goals and do your best to work towards them.

Don’t forget to pursue interests that you have outside of medicine.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Even though it won’t seem like it sometimes, training will fly by!

I think the bottom line is that you are finally embarking on the beginning of your career in medicine. You have control over how and where you take it. At the end of the day, remember that you have the unique power to bring health and healing to so many people. 

Welcome to the Blog!

Here’s a little bit about me:

My name is Shivani Chopra and I am a board-certified child, adolescent, adult, and forensic psychiatrist. In 2013, I founded the Premier Mind Institute, a psychiatry and psychotherapy mental health center in Newport Beach, CA.

I live in Southern California with my husband and son.

My path of education and medical training totals 27 years 😱!

I used to be an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCI School of Medicine and Medical Director of the UCI Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program. I left this faculty position after I had my son so that I had more flexibility in balancing mom life and work life. I currently volunteer my time as clinical faculty to help train second year child and adolescent psychiatry fellows.

My approach to psychiatry is a holistic and integrative one. No one thing fixes all, and I think it’s important to look at someone as a “whole.” Psychotherapy, diet, exercise, yoga/meditation are all things that I speak to quite a bit, in addition to medications when appropriate.

I am passionate about working with people when they are in some of their most vulnerable times. I tend to see many children, adolescents, and moms. I am equally passionate about empowering women. As a fun fact, I was in Model United Nations (MUN) from 7th grade until then end of college. The topics I researched and debated the most were the status of women throughout the world and refugees.

I consider myself to be a global citizen.

I love to travel. Visiting new countries, meeting new people and immersing myself in their culture reaffirms how interconnected we are as human beings.

I have been on the Executive Council for the Southern California Society of Adolescent Psychiatry for the past nine years. In 2017, I served as President of the organization.

I try to live my life with this mantra: Move intentionally. Sleep thoroughly. Eat mindfully. Give purposefully. Love deeply. Feel empathically. Live fully.