Depression: A Rising Epidemic and a Giant in Making

Dushyant Vanaik updated on : 29 May 2017


Depression has lately taken epidemic proportions.

The ‘World Health Day’ was celebrated a few days ago, with ‘depression’ being the central point of discussion. The world has realised that depression is not just a ‘condition’ but has turned into a new, rapidly growing, ‘disorder’.

The recent events of suicides by teenagers are an indication that depression is not just limited to adults but children and teenagers are increasingly becoming its victims.

There are many reasons for depression among teenagers and so are the ways to help them get out of the disorder. Through the following answers, Mr Maneesh Johari, CEO, Buzan Pune Centre, will help us in taking a deeper look at the problem, its causes and solutions.

What, in your opinion, is depression?

I won’t comment on the definition as per medical sciences but, in my opinion, it is a mental state - where the victim feels dejected and is gripped by prolonged sadness, with a loss of interest in enjoyable activities. Due to depression, the victim is unable to carry out normal day to day activities. This disorder also affects the appetite of the victim along with sleep. Other subtle signs are sudden emotional outbursts, irritability and a tendency to withdraw from social interactions.

What are the statistics on victims of depression?

Depression affects almost 150 million people worldwide. Experts estimate, that by 2020, depression may be second to heart disease as a leading cause of loss of healthy years of life. In India, every hour one student commits suicide. In the year 2015, 8934 students took the extreme step. From 2010 to 2015 approximately 39,775 students killed themselves. This is just the tip of the iceberg., as many ‘attempted suicides’ go unreported.

What could be the reasons for Depression in students?

If we observe the activities in the course of a day in the life of a student – it is seen that they do 2 main things:

  • Interact (or should we say, hangout) with FRIENDS;
  • STUDY (which should, in fact, be their prime objective).

Being social beings, students too, want to be the best in whatever they do – i.e. Academic Excellence & Popularity with friends.

Students get depressed if, either, they are not able to get MARKS in exams & tests or, they are not ‘LIKED’ by their friends.

Actually, it is also seen that those students who get good marks – have more friends – as these friends look to them for academic guidance also, making them a much sought-out-after ‘go-to-person’.

What can Parents do to try to reduce the probability of their child getting depressed?

Parents need to ensure that they equip their children with tools to overcome these issues effectively. Help them SCORE MORE MARKS – because, as seen earlier, this could probably be the core issue for depression among students.

The lack of keeping up-to-date with latest techniques of learning & teaching by the parents – sometimes forces them to insist that their children also study in the same way that they studied, when they were students. The parents need to appreciate that ‘what worked for them WILL NOT work for their children today’.

Students need additional tools to face the academic world today. The changes seen in the last few years include:

  • INFORMATION OVERLOAD– the Internet is now the Library for students. So the way we READ has to change to cope up.
  • The number of DISTRACTIONS – Facebook, video games, mobile apps etc. has gone up. These were actually not even present when the parents were studying… So the TIME available for studying has reduced.
  • ATTENTION span has reduced – especially while studying.
  • COMPETITION – number of applicants appearing for each seat – has gone up many times. Scoring Marks is the ‘key’.
  • JOB opportunities are fine – only for ‘good’ students – those who are able to answer most of the questions asked by interviewers. Most students are unable to recall facts & figures after a few days of ‘mugging them up’.
  • Lower marks & ranks result in LOWER ‘SELF-ESTEEM’ - which is the starting point of ‘depression’.
  • ‘Friends’ tend to value ‘what benefits them’ more than just the fact that ‘so & so is a nice person’. So they tend to gravitate more towards ‘HIGH ACHIEVERS’.

So, if SCORING MARKS is so important, how can Parents help?

There are some observations that I urge you to reflect upon.

  1. Students read novels fast and still understand the plot – then why do they read their textbooks slow? This is a result of the conditioning that we have grown up with - ‘Read each & every word slowly, to understand’.
  2. They remember songs after listening to them just a couple of times – then why do they need to revise the text matter many times, over & over again?
  3. Students recall songs that they have not heard for many months & even years together – but tend to forget what they studied a few days ago.

If we observe the actions made while the child studies, we find that they do 5 main things: -

  • Open their books and READ;
  • Underline important words & MAKE NOTES;
  • MEMORISE these notes;
  • Refer to old question papers; prepare the answers of most frequently asked questions & HOPE that the same ones are repeated this time too.
  • PRAY that they are able to RECALL the answers DURING the Exam time – because only then will they get marks.

If students can be taught how to Read faster (with comprehension, thus Saving Time while reading); make brain-friendly notes (convert multiple pages of linear notes into a single Sheet, thus saving time while revising) and use Memory Systems to recall facts & figures (saving time spent in repeated revisions)– it would ensure that they score more marks and Save Time.

The Brain is capable of reading fast, with comprehension (as seen while reading novels etc.), able to remember details – if the information is fed to the Brain in a ‘brain-friendly’ manner. Parents need to equip their children with techniques of ‘Speed Reading’, ‘Mind Maps’, & “Memory Systems” – to enable their child to Score More Marks, thus increasing their ‘Self-Esteem’, increasing their friend circle & popularity.

This will go a long way to ensure that their child stays far away from the curse of ‘Depression’.

Assume a student is studying for 6 hours a day, reading at 100 words per minute. What difference would it make, if they were taught how to simply double their reading speed – with comprehension? Well, Speed Reading techniques help students SAVE TIME every day.

Mind maps can convert multiple pages of linear notes into a single sheet – using the inherent attributes of the Brain. This enables students to retain & recall a lot better and save time as they would need to revise only a single sheet instead of multiple linear pages.

Memory techniques implemented help students recall facts & figures – even during the exam time. This ensures that they score more marks.

The time saved could be utilised for overall development, social interactions, in activities that are more appealing to them.

The important stakeholders in the education ecosystem include Principals, teachers & Parents. School academicians have to manage too many students and so, can be excused for not being able to look after the well-being of each student individually.

But Parents - have to look after only their 1 or 2 children. Hence, in my opinion, they are the most important stakeholder concerned about the well-being of the child and they HAVE to play a more proactive role in ensuring this. They have to become aware of globally proven techniques that equip their child with tools to excel in academics, save time, become smarter and excel in performance.

All these efforts would go a long way in ensuring that the individual student is shielded from the epidemic of ‘depression’ and collectively, society benefits.

About the Author:

Maneesh Johari, CEO, Buzan Centre Pune, India

Mr Maneesh Johari is the CEO of Buzan Centre Pune. He is a Mechanical Engineer and an MBA graduate. He was first introduced to Mind Maps in 2005, and after analysing its long-term benefit, he set up the only Buzan Centre in India in 2007. Mr Johari spends most of his time spreading awareness of the importance, relevance & applicability of Mind Maps. He is regularly invited to address gatherings, corporates & educational institutions. He is also certified in the Art of Effective Questioning, in ‘How to build Team Relationships.'

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