Feeling a bit blue?
By Lakshmi Sankaran
09th August 2012 12:21 PM
Stella is 14 years old and was a bright spark in her class. Six months ago her mother started working due to financial problems at home. Of late Stella is often sad and cries for the slightest reason. She gets angry easily and talks very little to others, unlike before. She is fearful of the dark and finds it difficult to sleep. She says she has bad dreams and often wakes up crying. Her teacher observes that she has lost weight and Stella says she does not feel hungry any more. She is often absent stating that she has headaches and feels too tired to come to school. Her class teacher reports to her parents that she has done very badly in the term exams. Is there something happening to Stella and does she need help?
Like Stella, we feel happy sometimes, and sometimes a bit ‘blue’ or sad. You may have heard the term ‘depression’ — it refers to the state of mind of a person who feels sad continuously for a period of time. There are many media stories about how depression is becoming increasingly common among persons living the fast paced life in metros, which includes students. Remember, an extremely depressed person is at risk of ending his or her life.
What are the common symptoms?
Headaches, frequent aches and pains; feeling that it’s difficult to concentrate; not feeling hungry or not wanting to eat; difficulty sleeping; wanting to stay alone and away from friends, family (not enjoying doing things you did before eg hanging out with friends); getting into fights easily, feeling irritated and moody (sadness or feeling low for a long time); feeling that you are not good enough (like intelligent or pretty); feeling life is pointless and even wanting to end your life (an extreme feeling). If these thoughts and moods persist for a long time, we should take it seriously. Some of our friends may show some of these signs and we can help them by lending them a shoulder to lean on.
Among students, grades can drop and studies can get affected. Seeking refuge by abusing alcohol, tobacco and other drugs may be tempting but they become an unhealthy way of coping.
What can I do to deal With persistent blues?
Share your concerns and worries with friends, close family members, teachers, mentors or counsellors. Have an open discussion and take help. Talk it out.
Think. What is the cause behind such feelings? Understanding the link between such feelings of sadness and some irksome situation will make the symptoms less frightening. For example, it may be issues at home, or having to face some difficulty with an adult person, getting hurt in an intimate relationship (being dumped by your sweetheart), or worries due to pressure of exams or class work, money problems.
Use better ways of coping, or find healthier options. Your friend or counsellor can help you find some creative ways to ways to cope with the stressful situation at hand. Learning problem solving skills is helpful.
Avoid tobacco, alcohol or drugs to cope, and many cups of coffee or tea.
Breathe! Learn some relaxation exercises (yoga, pranayama, tai chi) and engage in some vigorous sports to vent out. Sweat the negative toxins away.
Review how you feel after all this, keep in touch with your counsellor or friend.
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