Our diet, stress and fast-paced life, over-reliance on social media and other lifestyle factors is causing depression and anxiety among youngsters, says DR SANJAY TEOTIA

In present times, depression and anxiety are increasing daily in society, among all age groups. Let us analyse modern populations – they seek satisfaction in processed foods, are often malnourished, lead a sedentary lifestyle, are most often do not expose themselves to sunlight, are sleep-deprived and socially isolated. Their lifestyle has undergone a sea change in the past four to five decades and this has not only led to poor physical health, but also to an increase in depression and anxiety.

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression rose by an unprecedented 25 per cent in the pandemic’s first year, as a result of the forced loneliness, fear of infection, financial distress and grief over what we lost both in terms of material goods and loss of life of near and dear ones.

It is not to say that all anxiety is bad. Some is a must for good performance, but if it leads to even slight depression, it is always bad. It affects performance in all spheres of life, besides leading to psychosomatic ailments.

Women are nearly twice as likely to suffer from major depression than men. As has been noticed over the years, depression can develop at any age and can be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors. It is a myth to think that these afflictions can only begin in adulthood. Anxiety disorders also cause depression in children and adolescents and might at first present itself as irritability more than a low mood.

Dr Sanjay Teotia

What is Anxiety?

Most often, both depression and anxiety are interlinked, Symptoms of anxiety manifest as restlessness, being wound up or always on edge. A person suffering from anxiety is easily fatigued and has difficulty in concentrating. Such a person is often irritable, has headaches, muscle ache, stomachache or other unexplained pains. He or she also has difficulty in controlling feelings of worry, and also complains of sleep problems, such as difficulty in falling or staying asleep.

What is Depression?

Symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, besides showing a loss of interest or pleasure in all normal activities that the rest of us take for granted. It also shows up in the form of sleep disturbance, reduced appetite and weight loss, troubled thinking, and often recurrent thoughts of death and suicide. Try and motivate such a person to think positively and he or she himself must seek the company of persons who are positive and consciously avoid persons with negative outlook.

Exercise and Positive Company

People afflicted by these thoughts should keep themselves busy, and avoid being alone, and instead, surround themselves with positive people. They should also exercise regularly and cut back on social media time, build strong relationships, minimize daily choices, and reduce stress by keeping commitments to a minimum; practising mindfulness or meditation, and learning to let things go especially those things that are beyond one’s control.

See a Therapist or Talk Things Out

It also may be a good idea to be in touch with a therapist, and maintain the treatment plan. Do not avoid going to your therapist, even if you feel well. Consistently practise the strategies and copying mechanisms that your therapist has suggested for you.

If you are hesitant about seeking help from a psychologist, zero in on an elder, a sibling, teacher or a wise friend and talk to them regularly. Talking things over with a trusted and reassuring person really helps.

Get Quality Sleep

Never cut back on quality sleep, as it is a known fact that people with insomnia have a risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Avoid Toxic People

Avoid toxic people, especially those who make you feel worse about yourself, or who take advantage of you, spread rumours or talk behind your back.

Take to exercise and yoga from a young age

Balanced Diet and Yoga

Food is equally important. Eat balanced meals, reduce foods high in sugar and high fat. Maintain a healthy weight. Reduce alcohol and drug use, and stop smoking. Yoga plays an important role in controlling depression at the level of the body and mind by improving our energies.

Meditation Helps

Meditation has an equally important role to play in managing depression and anxiety. Meditation produces a deep state of relaxation and leads to a tranquil mind. During meditation, one focuses one’s attention and eliminates the constant stream of jumbled thoughts that crowd one’s mind and cause stress. This process will enhance one’s physical and emotional well-being.

Dr. Sanjay Teotia is Joint Director, Medical & Health, Lucknow. He is a prolific spiritual writer and his articles appear regularly in Navbharat Times and in Times of India, apart from YoursPositively

Featured image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay