A brilliant girl, all of 18, recently committed suicide, leaving all who knew her shocked. Mrinalini Rai, a journalism student, was full of life and none who knew her has been able to understand what forced her take this extreme step. Reports suggest that she was depressed.
Mrinalini isn’t the only one who has apparently lost her life to depression. In the last few years, urban youngsters have been increasingly losing sleep to depression, quite literally, resulting in suicide in extreme cases.
Social mores: Why are the young in our cities depressed? Ekta Soni, senior clinical psychologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, elaborates: “The reasons range from undesired results academically to failure in relationships and inability to cope with stressful routines. What strings them together are the hectic lifestyle and a highly competitive life.”
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP THEIR DEPRESSED KIDS
Avoid comparisons with peers at all costs Stay off constant nagging on minor issues.
Do not set unrealistic expectations Do not harbour prejudices
Try not to fulfill your own dreams through children
Talk to them and make them comfortable even when discussing serious issues
Give children an emotional outlet, even if it means just lending a shoulder to cry on
There is a sociological aspect too. Says sociologist Yogendra Singh, professor emeritus, JNU, “In a competitive society, high expectations of on-the-dot performance and living standards can lead to depression. There is also a mismatch between cultural values and socio-economic aspirations; such problems are inevitable till we reach an equilibrium. Until then, a good value system and self-assurance would be the only effective tools to tackle it.”
Extra vigil: Does that mean that parents of youngsters today have to be on an extra vigil? Businessman Raj Chauhan, whose daughter is “slightly depressed” as she missed a scholarship to study in Cambridge University though she had finished college from St. Stephen’s with flying colours, is concerned.
He says, “This has left her depressed though we are trying to reinforce her self-belief.”
Dr Jitendra Nagpal, psychiatrist, VIMHANS, speaks of the need to focus on mental health: “We are in a transitory phase and children have been stripped off the innate need to discover themselves holistically before stepping into the competitive world. They need to be prepared to handle the pressures.” Vulnerable young: Fast-paced social changes are making mild depression a common occurrence amongst the young as a result of which many of them are seeking professional help.
However, adds Ekta, “Depression cases manage to reach the doctors, but there is a stigma attached to it still. Counselling should be encouraged, especially in schools and colleges. Youngsters today are also suffering from Dysthymia — a mild form of depression or a mood disorder. While it doesn’t affect day-to-day functioning, it may have serious implications later. It is for the family and friends to help.” Parents, are you there?
E-mail author: malvikananda@ hindustantimes.com