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Depression is rapidly spreading among our students

Bengaluru: One of the major mental issues among the school going adolescents is depression. With examinations around the corner, more and more students are slipping into anxiety.


One of the common reasons attributed to the spread of depression among the students is high expectations from the parents and the examination related stress. According to the national mental health survey carried out by the Bengaluru based NIMHANS, a prevalence of depression is estimated to be 1.5% among students. The survey has pointed out that this mental illness is more among male students compared to their female counterparts and more among students in the age group of 18 to 22. Shockingly the depression is more among the urban students (1.7%) compared to the students from the rural areas (1%).


But here is a bigger shock. According to the latest study, the number of students reeling from this mental illness is actually in a bigger number. A recent study carried out by experts from the reputed Geisinger Medical Centre, Danville, PA 17822, USA and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, capital city of the Bihar, has revealed few more shocking details about the prevalence of depression among school-going adolescents in an Urban Area of Bihar. According to this research study carried out by a team of experts including Kunal Kishor Jha from Geisinger Medical Centre, Danville, PA 17822, USA and Satyajeet Kumar Singh, Santosh Kumar Nirala, Chandramani Kumar, Pragya Kumar, and Neeraj Aggrawal from Department of Psychiatry and Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna, among the 1,412 selected student respondents, the prevalence of depression was found to be 49.2%, wherein the prevalence of severe depression was 7.7%. The overall prevalence of depression was significantly (P < 0.001) higher among girls (55.1%) than boys (45.8%). The prevalence of depression was found to be higher among students belonging to minorities (Buddhism, Jainism, etc.) (63.3%, P < 0.001). Elder students were found to be more depressed than younger students. Depression was found to be statistically significantly associated with gender and religion (P < 0.005). Guilty feeling (69.48%) was one of the most prominent clinical factors associated with depression followed by pessimism (58.14%), sadness (56.52%), and past failure (55.81%). This research article has been now published in Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, the official publication of the South Zone branch of the Indian Psychiatric Society.


Student counsellors feel that these new numbers reveal the importance of proper adolescent and educational counselling at the school level. “Annual examinations, various national level admission tests will start soon. Every year tens of students take extreme steps like running away from the home, suicide, etc. due to the fear of examination. What I feel is that there are no instant solutions for these problems. We need to strengthen the students mentally from the very tender age. Counselling at regular intervals to help the students to cope up with the pressure is a key factor,” says Dr. Ranjani Desai, an adolescent counsellor.


She also feel that the parents and teachers must play a predominant role in improving the mental condition of kids. “Students always undergo pressure from either from parents or teachers or from both. Most of the time, the pressure is to improve the performance in the class room activities especially in examinations,” she said.

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