By Rahul Muralidharan:Â
There is an alarming increase in the number of young Indians suffering from psychological disorders. According to a recent government study, a shocking 20% of the population is likely to suffer from behavioral and emotional problems, with depression being the most common and prevalent disorder. A WHO report predicts that this number will rise by 15% to a staggering 28.5 million by 2020. Now, this is pretty flabbergasting. We have had an impressive growth story, with technological progress, social and economic prosperity over the last two decades. What has led to this sorry state of affairs? Dr. Praveen, a resident at Fortis Hospital Bangalore, feels that most of the psychological problems can be attributed to the fast and stressful lifestyle prevalent currently.
Today, most of us aspire to have a lavish lifestyle glamorized by filmdom, leading us to place a great emphasis on career progression and wealth creation. We live life as if it were a check list, filled with deadlines and targets to be achieved without pausing to appreciate the beauty of life. Familial and social relationships take a backseat. There is no room for expression or interaction. Consequently, we feel isolated, suffer from chronic stress and sink into depression. There is a sense of ultra-competitiveness rampant in our society today. Unfortunately, we seem to be living by Virus’s maxim of ‘Life is Â a race if you don’t run fast you will be like a broken anda!’ (Three Idiots). We seek out to simply emulate others and pursue the career options which supposedly have more “scope”, without caring a whit for individuality and personal fulfillment. The result being that we are chronically dissatisfied with our lives and the direction in which we are heading. Kids too are not spared from this ‘competition’,they are pressurized to be involved in a gamut of activities and are sent to coaching for JEE and other such entrance exams from as early as 8th grade. This instills a sense of anxiety and a fear of failure from a very early age. Kids, thus get easily prone to stress, feelings of low self-esteem and depression.
The impact of social media on our psychological health cannot be ignored. Meaningful social interactions have been replaced by ‘likes’ , ‘pokes’ and ‘tags’ on Facebook. “OMG He is in VegasÂ “, “She graduated from Harvard!!!Â “, “Her profile pic got 150 likes in a hour”, ” Dude How?? When will this happen to me”. Sounds familiar? A research conducted by Berlin University has revealed that constant usage of Facebook results in depression and isolation. Social envy over vacation pics and check ins, lack of ‘likes’ on posts, number of Facebook friends were the main factors that cause frustration and result in depression.
People look for quick fix solutions to their negative feelings, become victims of alcohol and substance abuse and the vicious cycle continues. Is all lost? Is there no remedy for this? Though the situation is pretty grave, we can definitely include certain lifestyle modifications which can prevent psychological problems. A healthy diet, with lots of exercise helps regulate stress. Involvement in a hobby or community activities also helps in developing feelings of self-worth. We need to have more “real” social interactions and develop a sense of gratitude and appreciation for our unique gifts. Most importantly we need to slow down and realize that life is not a destination but a unique journey that each of us must undertake and cherish.