Facing the bitter reality

Facing the bitter reality

It’s the beginning of a new academic year and most youngsters are looking forward to college life. They are excited about making new friends or moving to a new place.

However, this new life can sometimes come with its own set of problems like adjustment issues, peer pressure, relationship woes or something as simple as homesickness, which can affect a student’s mental health. Many a time, these problems can even lead to depression.

According to Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), depression is characterised by certain symptoms like diminished interest in activities, significant weight loss or gain, insomnia or hypersomania, psychomotor agitation, fatigue or loss of energy, a feeling of worthlessness or guilt, diminished concentration, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide and suicidal ideation without a plan.

If a person has five or more of these symptoms for two weeks, it could be a sign of depression, says Hiya Roy, who is a counsellor at Jyoti Nivas College.

“Everyone uses the term depression these days. It is very natural for anyone to feel low at some point in time but psychological depression is different. I have come across students who are upset or stressed due to strained relations with their parents, friends or loved ones,” she informs. 

Her advice to youngsters is to not lose hope. “A lot of times, looking for bigger achievements becomes a reason for depression. So try to find happiness in small things and don’t lose hope if you cannot achieve something. There is always a second chance,” she advises.

Some people are unable to figure out whether to visit a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist in order to overcome depression. “It depends on the level of depression. But it is always advisable to go to a counselor or psychologist first as any problem has to be uprooted from the base. Medicines only act as an instant shield to the problem but don’t solve them,” explains Hiya.
 
Sharmila Mehta, a counsellor at Surana College, feels that the high expectations of parents coupled with societal pressure forces students to take up things they are not interested in and this could lead to depression in the long run.

She feels that parents should be more understanding about their children’s
interests.

“I have come across students who are depressed due to family or love issues. Sometimes they are stressed if their parents are separated. These factors affect them and ultimately, hinder their academic performance,” says Sharmila. She is also of the opinion that depression, should be first treated without medication. Only if it is a case of major depression which has persisted for a long time, medication and psychiatric help should be advised.

Michelle, a literature student, says, “I have friends who have been through depression. Every student is prone to anxiety and stress. Many are unable to express themselves due to family issues, interpersonal relationships or academic pressure which ultimately leads to depression. Allowing them to open up can solve many of their problems.”

Dr Sr Judy, head of the department of psychology and a counsellor at St Joseph’s Institution, informs, “Students who suffer from depression can be helped through regular monitoring, counselling and psychotherapy.

There are therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy , Eye Movement De-sensitisation and talk therapy that helped many students overcome depression especially if it’s in the initial stages.”

Ultimately, all counsellors believe that depression is a serious mental illness and it is absolutely normal to seek help.

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