This Article was originally posted in the August 2020 issue of Medina County Lifestyle
Dr. Rakesh Ranjan, an expert and leader in the field of psychopharmacology, has been helping children and adults live better lives in Medina and the greater Cleveland area since 1993. As the founder and director of the Charak Center for Health and Wellness, his practice focuses on providing comprehensive mental health and addiction services to all individuals at every stage of life. The Charak Center is on the cutting edge of the newest therapies and treatments, accepting all insurance plans for the convenience of their patients.
Dr. Ranjan began his career working as a research fellow under the mentorship of the world-renowned psychiatrist Dr. Herbert Meltzer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. After his fellowship, he was appointed the Medical Director of Psychobiology Clinic at the University Hospitals of Cleveland. This clinic was one of the most respected and successful psychiatric clinics in the country in the 80s and 90s and was even featured as the cover story for the August 1992 issue of Time Magazine.
After a few years in academic psychiatry at Case Western, Dr. Ranjan opened his first clinic in the basement of St. Francis Xavier Church here in Medina, and the rest is history.
When Dr. Ranjan became aware that the August issue of Medina County Lifestyle Magazine was going to be our “Kids + Pets" issue, he was eager and more than willing to talk about the importance of mental health in children and adolescents and to discuss how important the subject is to him.
“It’s a totally different ballgame treating children vs. treating adults,” he says. “These are formative years we are talking about and there are so many things going on inside of a child’s head. Peer acceptance, identity, friends, body image, academic pressure…all kinds of things. Treating a child is very complex and there is such a dearth of child psychiatry services available. It’s an area of psychiatry that has such a great need and I love treating children. I always have.”
“Children can have optimal, or close to optimal development, if you intervene early,” Dr. Ranjan continues. “When a child goes untreated for a brain disorder, there will be gaps in their development and they aren’t going to have productive childhood experiences. Therefore, when they become an adult, they may have significant psychological maladjustments, and it can become very difficult to realign their coping skills once they become an adult. That’s why I love working with children so much. It gives you a great sense of satisfaction, even more than treating adults because if you treat them before they are in their late teens, you will have an impact on their lives forever.”
Unfortunately, a lot of parents may delay seeking treatment for their child because of the stigma attached to brain disorders. “Every stigma comes from ignorance,” Dr. Ranjan says. "And ignorance is not knowing. Some parents might feel like their child is ‘defective’ if they have a brain disorder. This is not true! If you have asthma, are you defective? If you have diabetes, are you defective? Of course not!”
Dr. Ranjan goes on to explain that the brain is an organ and if there is a chemical change in the brain, you need to address it. It does not have to be a permanent disorder. Your child’s brain can be effectively treated with the right counseling and/or medication.
“People don’t realize that we get patients better in my specialty a lot more than internists do for example. In psychiatry, we can not only control the symptoms of the illness but sometimes we can also slow down or stop the progression of the illness as well.” Dr. Ranjan goes on to explain that the same cannot be said, in many cases, of illnesses such as arthritis, COPD or congestive heart failure.
During our conversation, I learned a lot about the importance of seeking help for your child, if they need it, while they are young. The one constant message that Dr. Ranjan seemed to be coming back to was how important it is to take action on your child’s behalf as soon as you notice something might be wrong because the childhood and adolescent years are so important to the development of the body and brain. When trying to decide if your child may need help or treatment he says, “You should ask yourself: Is it causing my child any distress? Is it impairing my child’s day-to-day function? Is it causing me distress as a parent or affecting my functionality? If so, that’s the time to go seek help.”
“Our existence begins and ends with our brain,” Dr. Ranjan says. All of our organs are modulated in meaningful ways by our brain, and when the brain is not well, it affects so many other aspects of our health and well-being. Dr. Ranjan continues, “The earlier you treat [your child], the better the prognosis is. They are going to have much better lives – less suffering, more productivity and more happiness.”
As a parent myself, I know I speak for every mother and father who is reading this article right now when I say that nothing would make us happier than to know that our children's futures could be filled with less suffering, more productivity and more happiness.
SIDEBAR: The Charak Center provides multi-faced treatment to children, adolescents and adults suffering from the entire spectrum of brain disorders and psychological difficulties. Patients can receive confidential and convenient help from the comfort of their own home and have their medications delivered by their in-house pharmacy.