You must save your kids from becoming the next Arjun Bhardwaj!
Keep a close eye on your children's mental health and look out for red flags of depression! Here's how...
If you followed the news closely, you probably know Arjun Bhardwaj. He was the 24-year-old student who jumped to his death in Mumbai after live streaming a video titled 'How To Commit Suicide!'
During the jaw-dropping incident that has left many shocked, the student from Bengaluru, booked a room on the 19th floor of the plush Taj Lands End Hotel. At around 6.30 pm, allegedly under the influence of alcohol, Bhardwaj jumped off from the window of his room.
But this isn't all the information. There is more.
New developments in Arjun Bhardwaj story
During this viral 'tutorial' Bhardwaj also mentioned that he wrote suicide notes to his friends from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies where he was reportedly pursuing B.Com final year and family and then resorted to drinking alcohol and taking a morsel of some food.
When the Mumbai Police found his notes, they told the media that Bhardwaj mentioned that he was depressed and alcohol and drug use had taken a toll on his life. The incident also cleared the doubts that this was not a pre-conceived step.
Bhardwaj allegedly failed in his final year, had a younger brother and was under pressure from his family to complete his studies and get a job. He clearly couldn't take the pressure and resorted to writing about death a few days prior to his suicide. In fact, his father also came down to Mumbai to help their son, but alas!
Depression can affect anybody, anytime!
While this shocking incident has highlighted how depression can take lives, it also points at how parents must intervene and understand more about their child's mental health.
Even though Bhardwaj's father did come to resort his issues, it was clear that Arjun had already made up his mind and gone beyond counselling.
But that's exactly why parents must be educated about when to intervene and how.
We spoke exclusively to Dr, Era Dutta, consultant psychiatrist, Mind Wellness and Fortis Healthcare, Kolkata, to better understand the subject of kids and depression.
"As times have become fast paced, so have the demands on young kids. The big question in most parents’ minds is - Can children really have depression? The answer is a big Yes! Depression can affect practically any age, gender and strata of society," she explained.
She also added that kids as young as 10 years are susceptible to depression and therefore, parents must understand the red flags from early on.
What are the red flags of depression?
Dr Dutta explains, "Children may get sad at times after not getting a toy or something. “Sadness” is a transient emotion. If the sadness becomes persistent for days, or if disruptive behavior interferes with normal social activities, regular interests, schoolwork, or family life, it may mean that he or she may have a depressive illness. Keep in mind that while depression is a serious illness, it is also a treatable one."
She also shares some prominent symptoms of depression, one of which was clearly exhibited by Arjun Bhardwaj. Dr Dutta says, "All the symptoms may not be present but if you find a worrisome level of symptoms, you must seek help."
- Continuous feelings of sadness and hopelessness: Child may say repeatedly, “Mera mann nahi hai (I don’t feel like doing this or that)”
- Irritability or anger: This could be reflected towards self or others for instance excessive fighting, pushing
- Social withdrawal: Child may not want to go out anymore to play with his peers
- Increased sensitivity to rejection: If the other sibling or friend or parent doesn’t pay attention to them, they may go into a shell
- Changes in appetite: The child may experience either increased or decreased appetite
- Changes in sleep: The child may experience sleeplessness or excessive sleep
- Outbursts: Vocal outbursts or crying over trivial matters and may even experience difficulty in concentrating
- Fatigue and low energy: If the child says, “I am tired, don’t want to play” this is also an indication and may need your attention
- Physical complaints (such as stomachaches, headaches) that don't respond to treatment: Children may make excessive excuse regularly to skip school or extra-circular activities
- Reduced ability to function: During events and activities at home or with friends, in school, extracurricular activities, and in other hobbies or interests, your child may exhibit a last of function.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt: Child may say – “ I know it’s always my fault.” “I am a bad son” “No one loves me”
- Thoughts of death or suicide: If a child starts showing signs of extreme depression, he or she may start talking about death, where do people go, and start watching television programmes or Internet to learn suicide methods.
Depression is not just a 'feeling'
Parents must also remember that depression must not be mistaken for a 'feeling' since there is a scientific reason for people to get depressed.
"We all have happy chemicals in the brain (Serotonin) which when low in concentration result in depression. Of course, the environment at home, school, children’s coping skills, nutrition, parent’s history and even stressful events (like child abuse, failure in school, social peer pressure) can add to why the chemical can be low in some individuals," Dr Dutta explains.
A sad coincidence to Bhardwaj's death is that this year the theme for World Health Day 2017 (Friday 7) is Depression, Let’s Talk!
Parents must talk about mental health
Dr Dutta advices, "The message here is loud and clear. To open lines of communication. As parents, teachers, relatives and friends, from early on we should be taught to OPEN UP about our feelings. If we cultivate this behaviour, it is not only good for the child today, but also in the long run. Seeking professional help if you are worried doesn’t indicate that the child is “crazy,” “strange” or “mad." Just like oral hygiene is important, and we visit the dentist for it. It makes sense to have good “mental health” too."
We hope more and more parents come forward and concentrate on their kids' mental health and prevent another one from becoming Arjun Bhardwaj.
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