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25 Jun 2022, Edition - 2538, Saturday

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Columns

Stress the topmost silent killer!

Uma Ram

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Till almost two decades ago, this single word `stress’ was a rare occurrence. It was almost an unknown word. But in this era of the Internet, with social media turning very popular, stress and depression have become part of life. Right from newborns to the aged, stress and depression reign supreme. My forthcoming articles will discuss the pros and cons of this growing giant stress and the means to demolish it. But first let’s recognise it.

The meaning varies from `emphasis’ in English language to “the force per square unit applied on a body” as per physics. But no one even has time to think of the varied meanings of this homonym, except for the one pertaining to mental tension. Such is the degree of the trauma in day-to-day life.

Vinay was happily married to the girl he wished for after many struggles. With his loving parents in his native place, Vinay and his wife Riya shifted to their new home gifted by his parents. It was a fully furnished centralised AC apartment in the heart of the city with the most modern amenities. Riya proved her devotion in all possible ways by being not only his loving friend but a caring mother too.

Vinay had taken up his dream profession of an architect. He was bestowed with everything for a happy life, loving parents, beautiful loving wife, a luxury apartment, a high-end SUV, his dream profession. Yet within a couple of months life became no less than hell. He could not achieve his targets on time. His performance level had gone down considerably. He started picking up fights at the slightest provocation for silly reasons.

Not only did the management get furious, but also Riya found life becoming empty and as the two were just cohabiting under the same roof. He started avoiding even eye contact with his wife. Vinay had become so agitated that he started affronting everyone in his surroundings. Abusive slangs became his vocabulary and he was mocked at for being arrogant and nearly insane. It was a Monday morning that he collapsed in his office drenched in sweat. His colleagues panicked and rushed him to the nearest hospital.

The doctors diagnosed it as chronic depression. The pressures of his professional targets combined with the responsibilities of the new relationship had left him mentally exhausted. Thanks to his friend Rishabh, a psychiatrist, coming with timely counselling. He was advised to take off for month from his job and take complete rest. A mild dose of antidepressants prescribed for a fortnight followed by periodic counselling brought him back to normalcy in a couple of months.

Stress and depression are not confined to just a few. Everyone is sure to undergo this mental instability due to various reasons at some stage or the other. Hence it is not something to be ashamed of. It is easy to spot out stressed people even in a crowd. Their very face will be their mind’s index. Stress is often mistaken for arrogance. Stress is the `fight or flight’ mode exhibited by the mind in either real or perceived harmful situations due to certain chemical reactions in the brain.

Stress when healthy acts as a booster while chronic stress can be even fatal. So never ignore the alarm signals sent out by your mind and body. When a family member, friend, colleague, classmate or neighbour displays symptoms of uncorrelated physical or mental behaviour, or complains of frequent headaches, irregular heartbeat, body pains, shortness of breath, dry mouth or throat, muscle rigidity, profuse sweat without reason, lack of self esteem, constantly worried, forgetful, lack of appetite or eating voraciously and procrastinating duties, understand that they he or she is stressed out. Lend out your helping hand and suggest psychiatric help.

Newborns, toddlers, children and adolescents too are no exceptions. Tantrums are alarm signals sent out by stressed kids. The continuous crying of newborns and metabolic changes too are stress-related. So never ignore the signs and try to help them out. Take it as a self-measurement scale to analyse your own self if you yourself undergo this trauma.

Just like infections and fever affecting the body, it is nothing but just chemical reactions affecting the brain due to either internal or external or physical or mental factors. Hence it is not a shameful issue to be worried of as it is hundred per cent curable. Just understand nothing is permanent in this life, and so are stressful factors. Remember tests in life are just passing clouds. Happy living.

(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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