Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Teens and #Depression-All Facts,No Fiction-Part One

A WHO report states that "one in four teens in India of 13-15 age group have depression."Most of these cases go unreported,only a few seek help.

One such fifteen year old boy (let's call him Manish)was referred to me by his class teacher.He was accompanied by his grandfather,with whom he and his sister lived.His parents lived in a nearby village.He was studying in 10th class.They had come to me in Oct,five months before his 10th board exams.

He complained that he did not feel good,could not recall what he had studied and felt that he would not do well in the exams.He was under severe stress.His grandfather,being a teacher,was very understanding.He had taken him to a psychiatrist,but the medicines prescribed by the doctor made him so sleepy that Manish discontinued them.It was after this that they had come to me.

Manish told me that six months ago he had resolved to study hard and crack the JEE Exams.He had also joined a coaching class to prepare for the board exams.Everything was fine till two months ago-when he began to feel that he could not cope with the studies.He was losing confidence in himself and feeling depressed.

I asked him to narrate his daily routine. It was like this:he went to school early in the morning and returned at 2 pm,finished his lunch by 2.30 pm,studied till 3.45 pm,attended the coaching class from 4-7 pm,dined at 8 pm,studied again till 10 pm and then went to sleep.At 4 am next day the whole cycle would start again.Sometimes he woke up at 3.30 am ,feeling nauseated.

It was pretty obvious that the boy was burning himself out,but he was cognizant of only one fact,that he had to study hard and get a B.Tech from an IIT. On the other hand depression was making inroads into his personality.It was possible to reverse the process at this stage but I could not have said it in so many words.It should have come from inside him:whether he could or could not achieve his ambition;and whether he was willing to attain that coveted degree at the cost of his mental health.

I advised him to take things easy,not slog so hard,and start a physical routine like exercising,running,jogging,walking,yoga or meditation-whatever suited his temperament-in the morning.I assured him that this would refresh his mind,curtail his negative thoughts,and improve his mood and morale.I also gave him some tips to boost his confidence.He was asked to report again after four days.

Second visit
Next time Manish was accompanied by his grandfather and uncle.They disclosed that he had not studied at all for the last 15 days.That morning he had been crying bitterly,saying he was not ready for the exams.

It was obvious that Manish had set the bar too high,but on whose bidding?Was it his own ambition,peer pressure or family pressure?I felt that the family was behind this,but this was only a calculated guess. Manish was too decent a guy to blame his grandfather for his difficulties.It was going to be tough to make him see the futility of ruining his health in this way.

The immediate challenge in front of him was the pre-board exam.I suggested that if he shelved the JEE exam preparation for a while and concentrated on the 10th board exams,he would be less stressed.

His sleep had improved but he had not started exercising as yet.I asked him to make the required changes in his routine so that he could relax and ease the burden of studies.Relaxing in between bouts of study would enable him to better grasp the matter and retain it too.He agreed to do so.I asked him to come after one week.


  1. I'm reminded of a 17 year old boy who ended his life due to similar pressures. His mom was a dear friend and I can't get over it.Parents need to read this post. Acceptance is the first step.

    1. It is truly tragic:how we unknowingly harm our children.We must give them some space.
      Your friend must have been devastated because of this.

  2. Those JEE exams are criminal for the way they rob young people of a childhood.

    1. Agree with you Kalpana,and welcome to jeeteraho :)

  3. Wow !!! absolutely fantastic blog. I am very glad to have such useful information.


    1. Thank you Vaiybora,glad you like it.The very purpose of my blog is to be of use to someone.


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