“Did you know that Corex gives you an unbelievable high?”, starts the long term relationship with medicines that, these days, is seen as one of the most threatening addictions. Medicines are being used as the fastest and most accessible way to develop a certain “High”. In India, one doesn’t need a prescription to buy medicines. The result being that people do not go to doctors and treat themselves, this leading to dangerous consequences.
Cough syrups are one of the most popular of the non–prescriptive drugs, Corex being one. This is because it has a compound called codeine which is a by–product of opium. One knows what effect opium has on the body and therefore can only conclude as to what a harmless dose of cough syrup can do. However, it must also be specified that although all of these facts are true, this is the literal picture. Codeine has a certain property which depresses the part of the brain which produces the cough. It stops the irritation and therefore gives immediate relief to the patient. The dosage must be strictly followed and it is here that the patient could falter.
Our body can withstand most conditions and treatments. It is only the prolonged action of these substances which would make the body succumb to its effects. The consumption can only stretch itself to a limit and then it affects the system. Any drug which is consumed without having an ailment can be hazardous to one’s health. So, if a person who is not suffering from a psychological problem were to pop an anti–depressant, the reaction could be immediate. One must always remember that drugs can both serve the purpose of being relievers and at the same time act as toxins. Calmpose and Larpose, are also medicines which are causing a high alarm rate. They are prescribed to patients to relieve them of mental stress and also act as sedatives.
“I have too many problems. I’m not getting any sleep these days. Maybe I’ll take a Calmpose tonight”. Does this sound familiar? Many people can associate with these words. Thus it can easily be seen how irresponsible self–therapy can lead to a state of self–imposed addiction. Rita, who started taking Calmpose to relieve tension, is now an addict and cannot get sleep unless she takes one of these pills. She has been doing so since the last seven years.
Dr. Anil Awachat shared with us information as to how people turn into addicts by taking prescribed drugs and are termed as “Drug–addicts”. They have to be given therapy to rid themselves of the addiction. One such person went to a doctor because he was suffering from angina. The doctor prescribed a list of a few medicines, at the end of which was written the name of a sedative. The patient could have done without it. In India, this practice exists. The doctor prescribed the sedative not because it was necessary but because he wanted to give the patient immediate relief. Thus the patient would come back feeling much better and feel he had been relieved of his problem. The doctor thus would be termed as an “Excellent doctor”. The same patient went abroad and could not find that sedative, without prescription neither could he substitute it. He had to stop taking the pill. He now suffers withdrawal symptoms the same as a drug user would.
Paracetamols such as Crocin, are known to have side effects as drastic as nausea, constipation and severe headaches. Prolonged use of these can harm the liver, and lead to drastic changes within the body. Largactil, a sedative prescribed by psychiatrists is known to affect the liver. It is easily available in drug stores and is of an addictive nature. The medicines specified above are not being targeted as being hazardous to health. It is just to bring to your awareness that medicines can satisfy your needs, but only temporarily. Continued and prolonged misuse of them can lead to fatal consequences. Addiction of any kind is detrimental and the repercussions need not be specified. Respect your body, do not expose yourself and your mind to unnecessary hazards. Medicines are to cure, let’s not treat them as addictions.
Anorexia Nervosa in Teens
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder due to which people refuse to eat to the point of starvation. It is a physiological disorder and it has drastic physical as well as mental consequences. Anorexia means “Loss of appetite” and nervosa means “Of nervous origin”. Teens, especially girls are obsessed with becoming thin and “Perfect”. Such teens ignore signs of hunger and by denying themselves food they think that they are in control of their body.
Anorexia normally occurs during adolescence, between teens of 12 to 18 years. If you are anorexic then you are afraid of getting fat, hence you eat very little, reducing the intake of vitamins, minerals, proteins and other essentials your body needs. Thus anorexia effects not only your body but also your mind. As you begin to lose weight you begin to look unhealthy. Within a short amount of time your weight loss becomes so dramatic that it threatens your physical health as well as your mental health. As you begin to eat less your body metabolism begins to slow down. You feel cold and tired easily. Your palms and the soles of your feet turn yellow as your body is not getting the required nutrients. Your liver and kidneys will also get damaged by this stress. Your heart can also go into cardiac arrest due to lack of vitamins and minerals.
As anorexia worsens it turns into a painful emotional cycle. You become stressed, you feel tense and slowly you begin to hate yourself. Your body now begins to run on adrenalin instead of energy from food, as your body is not getting any. You loose your temper easily and your mood swings become frequent. You also begin to see fat on your body when you are actually very thin.
Recovering from anorexia may be difficult but in the end it is worth it. Tell somebody about your problem, they may be able to help you out. Never forget that your body needs time to heal. Eat fruits and vegetables, as this will help to clean your system and bring your appetite back. Avoid junk food and snacks, this will increase your aversion to eating. Try and exercise, this will make you feel better about yourself and it will introduce renewed vigor and vitality into your life. Speak to doctors and nutritionists who can help you.
Why to Exercise?
If you exercise, you will have a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. Exercise will also give you improved vigor and a well toned body. It will make you feel happier and more active. Exercise also promotes the intake and distribution of oxygen in your body, making you essentially healthy. Aerobic exercises stimulate your circulatory and respiratory system. When you exercise in the morning, you stimulate your metabolism and keep on burning fat even when you are not working out. When you exercise in the morning it also gives you the ability to handle stress better.
When exercising, one loses a lot of water from the body. A tennis player may lose up to 3 liters in an hour. This can make us dehydrated and cause muscle cramping and a loss in stamina. It is hence advisable to drink a cup of water before the start of the game or workout, fifteen minutes into the workout and about five minutes after the workout.
Exercise can help reduce your blood pressure. A normal teen’s blood pressure is 110 millimeters of mercury over 70 millimeters of mercury. A teenager who exercises can lower high blood pressure easily. An active person’s heart pumps 25% more oxygen compared to a normal person’s. Exercise can work for you , but it can also work against you. Before starting any exercise routine, always consult a doctor. When starting for the first time or when resuming after a long time, always begin with a mild workout and gradually increase its intensity.
Studies show that regular exercise improves
- Muscle strength and endurance.
- Endorphin production (reduces stress).
- Insulin production (helps in prevention of diabetes).
- Level of oxygen supplied to the brain.
- Exercise done 4 to 5 times a week.
- Exercise at a level that produces sweat.
- Exercise that lasts for about 30 to 45 minutes, moderation is the key.
- Exercise that is accompanied by regular meals and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise that is done in a happy positive mood. If you hate exercising, then you will not benefit from it.
Friends for Life
TeenagersThe family as a support system is irreplaceable. The teen years are the time for making new friends, but the support of the family and old friends can be invaluable in coping with the changes and dealing with the stress and pressures of adolescent life. This group of friends is happy after enduring a long trek together.
The onset of adolescence is usually followed by preoccupation with new interests. And the changes in the body can be a trying time for the adolescent. As a result, a number of teens tend to ignore their physical well–being. In fact, one must continue to be as active as before. It is not only important to regulate one’s diet, but also continue with all the physical activities as before. Activities such as outdoor sports are not only a good form of exercise, but also a chance to keep oneself fit both mentally and physically. Moreover, they are an excellent opportunity to meet like–minded people.
Mental Illnesses Common at Adolescence
Although psychiatric disturbances are only a little more in adolescence than in the middle years of childhood, the pattern of disorder is markedly different, being closer to that of adults. As mentioned by Graham and Rutter (1885), about two–fifths of adolescents with psychiatric conditions showed emotional disorders of some kind. Most of these were anxiety states, depression or some kind of relative disorders.
The generalized anxiety disorder was 3.7% & separation anxiety was 1% in adolescents (kaplon & Sadock 1998). Incidence of panic disorder was found to be 0.6% animal phobias get replaced by social phobia and agoraphobia. Similarly school refusal shows an increase in frequency but reason is not only a separation anxiety but more likely to form part of widespread emotional disturbance. Clear–cut hysterical reactions and obsessive–compulsive disorders become more common during adolescence (Graham & Rutter 1985)
Identity disorders in Teens
The disturbance due to severe subjective distress over an inability to reconcile aspects of the self into a relatively coherent and acceptable sense of self is manifested by uncertainty about a variety of issues relating to identity such as goals, career choice, friendship, sexual behavior, moral values and group loyalties. It is not actually a mental disorder but it is some times manifest in the contest of such mental disorders as mood disorders, psychotic disorder or borderline personality disorder (gelder 1983).
There is a major increase in the frequency of depressive conditions of all types. Either depression will show typical clinical depression or may reflect in poor academic performance, sexual promiscuity, truancy or running away (kaplan & Sadock, 1998). Studies show that the higher incidence of depressions in females begins in adolescence, when roles and expectations change dramatically. Along with other stressors, hormonal changes may be associated more often with depressions in females. Studies also indicate that individual with certain characteristic–pessimistic thinking, low self esteem, a sense of having control over life events and proneness to excessive worrying are more likely to develop depression. Some experts have suggested that the traditional upbringing of girls might foster these traits and that may be a factor in the higher rate of depression. Study by Riedon and Koff (1997) indicated that the more subjective and personal measures of weight related body image discontent–weight dissatisfaction and weight concerns were associated with increased depressive symptoms.
Increasing rates of adolescent suicide are a significant health concern and the third leading cause of death for this age group (Rosewater & Burr, 1998). Pre and post examination tension exposed students to a world of fear and remorse plus lack of psychological support in the family and society pushes the children to suicide. Another common cause of suicide at this age is broken love affair.
Unexplained fatigue or even asthenia are frequently encountered in gynecological practice during this transition period, involving major hormonal and morphological changes–particularly during adolescence which are able to radically alter the subject’s self image. The term fatigue can have very different meanings in the adolescent girls. In addition to true tiredness, it can also mean ‘I Feel Ill’, “I am dissatisfied or sad” while true fatigue or asthenia is described in terms of ‘I feel awful’ ‘I have a headache’ or ‘I am unable to concentrate’. Perception of symptoms related to fatigue is interpreted in very different ways by adolescent girls and this interpretation often differs from that of adult.
Anorexia nervosa is mainly observed in young women in the 15 to 24 year age range. The incidence is 1 to 2% in the general population of female adolescents. Diagnosis is clinical and confirmed by an analysis of the underlying conflicts, which involve difficult in accepting the female identity and assuming self–sufficiency outside the family. Anorexia nervosa is not a truly structured psychopathological disorder but rather a loss of stable organization of self with a highly vulnerable narcissistic element and precarious neurotic defenses. Till very recently, anorexia nervosa was a rare disorder in our country but socio cultural differences in the value attached to sliminess may perhaps account for the probable recent increase in the incidence. Schizophrenia is another common disorder at this age but incidence is equal in both boys and girls.
Understanding the manner in which adolescents cope with stress is very important. Adolescents more often utilize avoidant coping strategies. (listening to music, playing sports, sleeping etc.) than approach oriented coping strategies (trying to directly solve the problem, seeking help and guidance from someone about the problems) to deal with negative affective influences. According to Reuter & Conger (1998) the development of either effective or disruptive adolescent problem solving behavior is reciprocally associated with the child rearing strategies of parents.
To minimize the impact of adolescence on mental health, it is better to follow some guide–lines.Parents and teachers training in understanding psychology of adolescence. Sex education in middle school. Group therapy sessions for adolescents to understand the physical and emotional changes they are undergoing and teaching them to use healthy coping mechanisms