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DNA India
07 April 2010
Mumbai, India

Niharika Sen, 5, refused to go to school and started displaying cranky behaviour. Psychological tests revealed she had school phobia, her family history of depression aggravating her woes.

Children as young as four and five are facing psychological complications these days. Psychologist and school counsellor Neha Patel says the reasons are parental pressure, teachers’ expectations and competitiveness.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has become prevalent among children. With nuclear families and working parents, the latchkey syndrome has also come into play – children returning home from school with nobody to greet them except the maid. “Children are spending more time with their maids; this creates a communication barrier between parents and children,” says psychologist Seema Hingorrany.

According to Malini Shah, senior counsellor at Aavishkar Centre, childhood and teenage are two phases of life that need critical attention. She says the breakdown of the social system is making city teens anxious and vulnerable to mental disorders. “The desire to adapt to western ideas despite societal pressure to stick to indigenous values is leading to confusion,” says Shah.

The other vulnerable group is working professionals, who are constantly seeking greener pastures, which takes a toll on them. Just like it happened to Sonia Karkare, 26. Her quest for perfection and a better–than–others attitude at work did her in. Karkare, overworking her mind to avoid making errors, ended goofing up more. She kept switching jobs one after the other to a point where she slipped into depression.

Hingorrany says that most of the time, working people are ridden with a sense of insecurity and feel incompetent. The way out, she suggests, is not to pin the blame on oneself.

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