1 June 2008
By Laxmi Birajdar
Teenagers in the city are increasingly falling prey to depression. There are many causes for this, ranging from academic pressure to peer pressure
Pune is known for its huge student population and cases of young minds plunging into depression abound.
Meritorious students facing pressure from parents to do well and youngsters given to too much enjoyment, such as partying, are now increasingly seeking psychological help.
It is vital to treat depression among teens. This is because teenage is one of the most critical stages of our lives, as development during these few years determines future growth.
“A person can live a far healthier life if teenage problems are taken care of properly,” says counsellor and psychotherapist Rujuta Vinod. She is often approached by college students around occasions like Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Navratri or the final exams.
The temperament of teenagers makes them especially susceptible to depression. “Due to their sensitivity, teenagers feel a void when what they get is completely different from what they expected. A rational assessment of one’s strengths and weaknesses is also missing in teenagers,” says psychotherapist Vidyadhar Bapat.
Bio–chemical changes in the brain trigger depression, which manifests itself in different forms. There are various causes of this. Given their emotional volatility, teenagers experience infatuations and heartbreaks. All these may further lead to a misinterpretation of their own feelings and may even result in academic failure.
“Shifting from one place to another for higher education sometimes brings with it a culture shock. This could also lead to depression,” says Vinod.
Given the competition in every sphere of life today, facing the future is a nerve–wracking thought. “Even now, a lot of young students don’t get the opportunity to pursue the career of their choice. Comparisons by parents with others, including stalwarts from the teen’s field of choice, are also very common,” points out Vinod.
She goes on to make a startling observation about college youth. They often feel a need to prove their sexuality, she says. This is especially due to peer pressure and an inability to connect with their parents or immediate surroundings rationally. “This may lead to insecurity and then depression. They then want to vent out their frustration by proving their sexuality by any means – be it homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality. All this may drive them to sexual indulgences,” she explains.
To add to this, the internet age has brought with it new issues – addiction to internet surfing and virtual relationships.
Depression manifests itself in various forms. “Teenagers’ inability to cope with stress is very common. That’s why they either react very violently or become extremely closeted and tight–lipped. Some of them may even feel like running away from home,” says psychiatrist Dr. Vidyadhar Watve, who handles at least two cases of teenage depression every month.
Untreated depression could result in channelling one’s emotions into short–lived pleasures, lack of concentration in studies, frequent migraines or even shopoholism. There are also several cases of depressed youth acquiring suicidal tendencies. In fact, a failed suicide attempt could further aggravate depression, observes Vinod.