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The Financial Express

OPINION

Depression: An insidious pandemic


-Representational image -Representational image

Boys and girls everywhere in the world are seen being attacked by depression in their adolescence. The adults find themselves in a quandary in identifying the causes of these melancholic fits. In some global regions, the developed ones in particular, the teenagers undergo these spells more intensely than in the poorer areas. The reasons remain unknown. Psychiatrists have long found it is both the teenage and the post-adolescence girls who demonstrate the trait of being attacked by the spells of depression. The incidence is more widespread among the girls than found in their male counterparts.

Specialists dealing with adolescent behaviour observe that teenage and post-teenage fits of depression have long been a worrying phenomenon in the modern times. But they have emerged as a social and familial blight during the recent Covid-19 school and college closures. Prior to the recent reopening of educational institutions, a great number of the post-teen youths discovered themselves in a psychological void. It lasted for over one-and-half years. Bangladesh was no exception. State of being in a mental limbo in normal times is interpreted as being a part of youth. Young men and women with flairs for creativity and nurturing a susceptible nature remain generally overtaken by psychological problems of different kinds.  The elders become worried watching their young wards dissociating themselves from their friends, and preferring to remain alone.

In the times of youthfulness, teenagers and youths choosing a different world exclusive to them could be the sources of many an anxiety. As they grow into adulthood and get involved in the complexities of the practical world, lots of youths muster the capability to come free of the 'romantic agonies' --- as termed in the creative parlance. Seen universally, sadness coupled with depression once defined a large section of youths in the developed world. As part of a domino effect, the ripples of youth melancholy finally swept across the least developed regions. They are not in a position to let them be overpowered by the luxuries of ennui.

At the same time, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking a veritable havoc on life and livelihood in the world, accompanied by lockdowns, the youth depression-related scourge took a worse turn. A victim-nation of the pandemic, Bangladesh couldn't expect to be spared. Being a least developed country, its problems began multiplying with the addition of the socio-psychological malaise of corona-time depression. Like the rest of the world, its schools, colleges and universities were also declared shut for nearly 18 months. The inner torments of the adolescent and fully young students became a great worry for social observers. Policymakers at the national level couldn't also turn away from the seemingly inexplicable crisis.

Unlike the advanced countries, Bangladesh has never been in a position to create a situation favourable to widely allow its youths to take recourse to internet-based communications. Most of the developed nations turned to full-scale curricular activities online. Barring a few who are pathologically morose, the teenage and adolescent learners in the West found their ways fully open to virtual classrooms. Compared to it, the socio-economic divide and dozens of discriminatory practices define the Bangladesh society. The internet access remained lopsided.  It left a vast majority of the adolescent students finding themselves stuck in an abyss-like void. On this count, the general mood of depression plaguing the Bangladesh students cannot be termed akin to that of the West. Now that schools at different academic levels have started reopening, the students' feeling of being left out can be expected to be on the wane. The fact is, Bangladesh students in general are primarily engaged in the struggle for climbing up the educational steps. They have little scopes for seeing themselves mired in the nearly utopian reveries championing depression.  Social guardians have a role in helping students battle their fatigue.  

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