Three-fold rise in stress, depression cases as board exams near

 With the class 12 board exams now just a month away, doctors said there is a three-fold increase in the number of children reporting stress and depression.

Experts said children experiencing depressive symptoms and stress when exams near is soon becoming a trend in the capital.

“The number of children coming to us before exams has tripled in last few years. It was not so common earlier but in recent years, the number of kids coming to us from the announcement of exam dates has increased manifold,” said Dr Shobana Mittal, consultant psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS).

Though depression, stress and anxiety are “common”, the doctors said they have also found an increase in the cases of dissociative disorder, which leads to disintegration of memory, identity and mode of sensory functioning.

“When there is an acute stress, there is a conflict in the child’s sub-conscious mind which may also lead to pseudo seizures. We are also seeing children with attempts of self harm,” she said.

However, the doctors said this is just the “tip of the iceberg” as they are many who do not seek professional help.

They suggested that the parents should recognise the symptoms and reach out for help either at the school level or a professional intervention.

“It is normal that kids will worry during exams but parents should know to differentiate the normal anxiety with these signs. They should reach out for help if there is a difference in the child’s temperament, if he is low on energy or has crying spells and talks of self harm. These are all red alert signs,” she said.

Dr Mitali Srivastava, Clinical Psychologist at CIMBS suggested that one way to prevent children from stressing out is parents having “realistic expectations” from them and encouraging them according to their capability and aptitude.

“Children should keep taking breaks while studying every 45-50 minutes for improving their concentration,” she said, advising morning study instead of overnight as it is “not committed in the long term memory”.

“Also, the intake of tea and coffee in the night should be less as they may lead to increased anxiety levels and impairment of memory,” Dr Mittal said.

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