Youth and Depression Management

Prof. Amber Haque for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Youth is a time for aspirations, dreams, and fantasies. It is a time when healthy young people are generally carefree and sometimes very confident. They may even be ready to conquer the world! But there are youth who slip into the other extreme, a condition called depression.

Studies in the US show that on any given day about 8% youth suffer from major depression meaning that they need medical attention for their condition and there are 28% who report depressive feelings. We don’t have such statistics for developing countries so it’s hard to predict the percentage of depression among youth in countries like India. If a scientific study is done, one may be surprised at the sheer numbers of youth being depressed or utterly unhappy with their life.

In this short article, we will discuss three questions about depression in the youth:
a)    What are the signs of depression?
b)    What causes depression in the youth?
c)    What are the treatments for depression?

Let’s first differentiate between sadness and depression because sadness is not depression. Sadness in fact, is normal. It’s okay to be sad because of the loss of a close relative or having failed in an important exam. One can cry when sad but the feelings of sadness go away after the tears stop. However, if sadness continues for sometimes, like weeks or months, it may be turning into depression.

The symptoms of depression are having a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, loss of interest in almost all activities nearly every day, significant loss of weight or gain in weight, inability to sleep or excessive sleep nearly every day, being restless or tired nearly every day, feeling hopeless or having inappropriate guilt, difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions, and repeated thoughts of death or taking one’s life.  If five or more of these signs are present continuously for at least two weeks, one may be diagnosed as having a major depression.

A milder form of depression is called dysthymic disorder when a person experiences depressed mood and other symptoms that are not severe enough to be called major depression but are present for a longer period of time. A person with dysthymic disorder is able function normally but has a sad demeanor and shows signs of tiredness and lack of concentration.

The causes of depression are many but here are the main ones: biological or hereditary—or as they say, it “runs in the family”; psychological, like repetitive negative thoughts, low self-esteem, a sense of fear and guilt and being unable to cope with such stressors, and environmental, like pressures from school, family, or peer group or when bullied and harassed by others.

This leads us to the third question: is depression treatable? The answer is yes. There are two main ways of treating depression: by psychotherapy or talking cure and pharmacotherapy or medication. Family psycho-education is also an important way to deal with youth depression because family can play an important role in the proper upbringing and molding of children. Treatment depends on the causes and one should leave it to the professionals to determine the actual cause of depression. The good news is that depression results mostly from non-biological causes and can be treated without medication.

Psychologists use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) to treat depression. CBT is directed primarily towards changing negative thought patterns that contribute to depression and IPT focuses on improving patient’s self-concept and relationships with significant others.

Some parents may get overly concerned about depression in their children and go see the psychiatrist for consultation. Psychiatrists or medical doctors usually prescribe medication. If this happens, one should get a second opinion because medications have side effects and especially those that act on the brain. In the US, Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only Government approved medication for children 8 and above.

Doctors may give other drugs but the patient or the family should always ask about the risks of taking medication and this should be the last resort. Medication not only brings negative side effects but the patient runs the risk of developing dependence and tolerance leading to higher doses in the long run. Medication becomes necessary only when biological reasons are determined. Studies also show that a combination of medication and psychotherapy will bring better results.

In this “Information Age” the best strategy to overcome problems is to be informed from professional sources. It is even more important in cases related to mental health as untreated depression not only ruins one’s every day functioning and relationships but can lead to risk of suicide. We want our youth to remain happy and healthy because healthy youth make a healthy nation!

(The writer is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at UAE University in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.)

Youth Spirit: Understanding ‘Youthness’

Hisham Barbhuiya for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Youth is a period of life every human being looks forward to as a kid. When old, the same individual may lament over the lost period for not having utilized it enough. The stereotypical image of youths indulging in sports, adventure tourism and everything associated with fun and enjoyment is very prevalent these days. These enticements however have deviated many from the actual goal of life.

As per a Hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied and your life before your death.”

What we often don’t realize is as to how important this period is as far as Ibadah is concerned. The tremendous power of our du’a(s) is also underestimated by most. That a du’a can actually fix our problems and even change the course of our destinies as per the Qur’an and many Ahadeeth is something to ponder about as to what a tremendous entity we as human beings have been bestowed with.

In order to make du’a, the ritual Salah or Namaz is a pre-requisite. As kids we aren’t able to fulfill this obligation many a times due to lack of senses, and as elders we may not be able to do so as health concerns may take toll. So, the best time to make use of this power is now – as youths!

There are a lot of evils in this world which needs to be corrected – pornography, rape, prostitution, racism, bigotry and the like. A lot of people in the world are suffering today in places like Burma and Syria. Here we are full of life and energy and yet doing nothing for them and to make this world a better place to live in.

Shouldn’t we feel guilty about this? We should! But there is a lot we can actually do. The first step is du’a. A du’a made for others brings about the same blessings for the ones who make it too. So, in short it helps others as well as ourselves.

Then comes, du’a combined with actions. This is where Da’wa comes into play as a part of those ‘actions’. Da’wa is not fanaticism or trying to impose our views on others. It’s simply enjoining good and forbidding evil as the Qur’an says. So, let’s wake up and utilize our time.

(The writer is a Content Writer who works in an Multi Natioanl Company in Bangalore.)

Being Youth Ever – I Can, You Can, We Can!

S M Fasiullah for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Behind every revolution there are youth. Every war is powered by youth. Many adventurous projects across the world are carried out by youth. They are the power house of energy. Ask an elderly person, he will tell you what it means to be young and energetic. But not all youth do wonders and get a place in history books.

Those youngsters, who understand the significance of this age group called “youth’’, set a higher goal for themselves and consistently pursue their goal with hard work and strong determination, are actual winners. Proper guidance, constant motivation and rigorous training are required to achieve any goal and emerge victorious.

This very idea to inspire youth has motivated us to come up with a new magazine “Hyderabad Youth Mirror”, particularly to cater to youth of the city. Nevertheless, it is for all youngsters who have a spark in their hearts to do something for themselves and the society.

Therefore understanding ‘youth’ beforehand is crucial. A Turkish scholar Nursi once said: “Youth will certainly pass. If it is wasted in indulgences, it will result in thousands of misfortunes and pains both in this world and the next.”

In order to better utilize our youth, we need to stop and think; what potential do we have, where we are heading towards and where we would like to go. Do we have a well-planned goal set for ourselves to achieve?  Answers to these questions may not be easy to find. Ask your family members, friends, teachers and counselor to know in which areas you are good at. Then plan for a goal to achieve and invest your energy and time with dedication and determination. After all these efforts, hope for success to touch your feet.

Above all, your positive attitude to do something matters a lot. Build an attitude of the achiever, while taming your ego. Being a youth myself I can achieve my goals; so you can and everyone can. Let’s start today, for the change to inspire others. “Where others flinch, rash youth will dare!”

At last, if our new magazine proved to be even a small help to youngsters in anyway then our team would claim that our humble attempt is justified.

In Conversation with Darvesh Faiz

All India first ranker in National Level Science Talent Search Exam (NSTSE) Darvesh Faiz shares his success mantra during an interaction with S M Fasiullah. Mr. Faiz is a KVPY Fellow and engineering student at BITS Pilani, Hyderabad. He scored 99.32% in CAT and 99.02% in XAT exams. He also writes for during free hours.

1. What it feels to be a ranker?
Alhamdulillah, it is blessing from Allah (swt). The respect, love and admiration one receives is very rewarding.

2. Who influenced you in your student life?
My parents and my entire family have been a major source of inspiration for me. Alhamdulillah my father’s guidance and my mother’s constant words of encouragement and prayers helped me sail through the toughest exam. I would like to especially mention my sister and grandparents for their motivation and support.

3. How did you plan your study?
Time management plays an important role during the time of exams as well as while during preparation. Set small goals and strive to achieve them in the stipulated time period.  Consider taking small breaks every couple of hour to  capitulate and maintain your level of concentration and focus.

4. Does social networking sites and apps influenced your study?
Social networking sites when used judiciously can in fact be useful tool in your preparation. But as with everything else, moderation is the key word. For those who are aiming for competitive exams like civil services, CAT, XAT, GRE, etc., it is highly recommended to read a lot of books and keep up to date with current affairs.

5. What is your mantra to achieve goals?
First of all do hard work and have faith in Allah. Stick to set principles, no matter what. Choose friends wisely as they play major role in keeping you motivated. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. I always spend some time with the Holy Quran. It has a calming effect on the mind and pumps in me a renewed confidence. Finally, do your best and Allah (swt) will do the rest.

Science vs. Religion

Dr. Thamee Shahid for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

Our world is changing faster than we can perceive a change that moves with the speed of light. While most of us prefer the normalcy of daily routines with little or no change in the schedule of everyday activities, including our prayers without question, the world we live in has a completely different outlook, of us, of life, of ideologies, and of religion.

With much that has changed in the modern day era and as mankind has surged forward on the path to scientific research at an awesome speed, it is with the same speed that man has decided to leave behind the essence of faith and spirituality. No more will you come across a debate of whose religion is better, or which deity is the One, or which methodology of worship is the right one.

The modern man will ask you a new question, why religion? Why worship? Why God? The sad part is we aren’t prepared with the answers. The biggest war that this era of human civilization has witnessed is the war between Science and Religion.

While men of science and rationality have gone on to say that religion is flawed and is nothing more than the “opium of the masses”, men of faith have countered saying that Religious Scriptures can be scientifically proved (and therefore the relentless pursuit to prove religion scientifically) and make sense to the human brain, and if not, then when God destroys the world, men of science will eat their words!

What we have forgotten is one crucial point – science requires a brain, faith resides in a heart. As long as we continue to present any religion to anyone on the grounds of the number of scientific facts that validate it, it might work, but to a limited extent only. Science can never be the criteria that validate faith, because science is human understanding, and even though we may establish that science cannot be wrong due to its basis in proof and fact, science is young.

Everyday science disproves itself in some way or the other and one theory is introduced to fill the vacuum left behind by an earlier disproved theory. Religion, on the other hand, makes you accept one fundamental point that human capacity of all forms is limited. It does not matter who you are, but you have to accept that and function with those limitations. How convenient is it, that when religion tells us to believe that there is a world of the Unseen, one can hear the ridicule that men of science indulge in. But science itself has proved that we have a limited wavelength of light beyond which we cannot see, limited frequency of sound beyond which we cannot hear, and anything that passes beyond these limitations is automatically the unseen.

And yet if you choose to reject religion, and adopt atheism as the way of life, there is one simple question, who will guide science? Who will save science from its own self as the power it carries has destructive tendencies? Who will prevent any other city from becoming a Hiroshima? Faith brings with it things that science cannot define or dismantle with its theories or rational debates. It brings with it peace, a feeling of immense satisfaction, spirituality which is not guided by meaningless rituals alone but by the light in your heart, the desire to serve mankind and enslave one’s self to God.

For those of us who have faith, we do not call science the enemy of religion, neither do we have a burning desire to fight this battle, not because we have already accepted defeat, but because we happen to humbly believe that the people who reject the Existence of God are the biggest believers of His Presence. It is true. You will never come across a “religious person” as zealous in his talk about God as an atheist when he directs all his efforts and time to prove that God doesn’t exist. This idea clogs the mind so badly that everything, even if negatively, is centered round God.

For example, none of religious folks ever asked for it or provoked it, and yet scientists call their latest discovery, ‘the God Particle’, or the captain of the Titanic would claim his ship to be ‘Unsinkable – even God can’t sink it’ or the numerous examples throughout history. The ones who deny religion and faith are the most obsessed with God, and yet science is their religion! And those of us, who do believe in God, find beauty in what you see, in what you hear and in what you perceive.

For those who do believe, use science as a tool to come closer to God, to appreciate the Beauty of His Creation. For those who do believe, in the face of ridicule and mocking, be grateful for having science as a way of understanding that God has blessed us with. For those who do believe, which of the favors of your Lord will you deny? “He it is Who created for you all that is in the earth. Then turned He to the heaven, and fashioned it as seven heavens. And He is knower of all things.” (Surah Al Baqarah – Ayah 29)

Education Requirements in Information Technology Age

Prof. Suleman Siddiqi for Hyderabad Youth Mirror #

This age of Information Technology has thrown open new avenues and has brought knowledge at our door steps. Overwhelming changes are taking place in different spheres of our life, therefore, it is time that the young Muslim youth must set their goals, reorient themselves to the requirements of the time, age and society.

The requirements of the present day industry, corporate and private sector have changed drastically. They are looking for young, dynamic, honest, committed and skilled youth. Apart from the domain knowledge, you are required to possess sound knowledge of other subjects as well.

In this age of 24 x 7, we need to orient our self to the choice-based credit system, which will enhance the knowledge and marketability of the student. This is a self-learning age. Sitting at home you can register yourself for any certificate, diploma or any other program online. You can write your exams online and download your results.

I would like to share with you a story of a young girl who did her degree program in English literature from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. After her marriage she moved to Middle East with her husband. There she appeared for an interview in a school to teach English language and literature.

After the interview, the principal informed her that she is the best, but she also said she has not been selected. On enquiry she was informed that she has to her credit no teacher training program. She went home, sat on the computer, went online and found a teacher training program of six months.

She registered herself, downloaded the material, studied hard and wrote her exam online. She travelled to London with her husband for three weeks to teach in a school. She came back, downloaded her certificate and went to the same school and she was appointed on a substantially good salary. This is the easiest way to enhance your knowledge and marketability. Take advantage of this great facility which was not available to us when we were students.

As I said earlier, this is the age of 24 x 7. People who are willing to work round the clock and who are committed are being preferred. The wife of a close friend of mine died recently. His son came all the way from U.S.A. During his journey to Hyderabad he was working on his laptop at the airport and during the flight despite this tragedy.

After the funeral was over, he came and said, uncle I’m leaving tomorrow. I was shocked and told him that your father is alone, he need to stay back at least for a while. I advised him to send an email to his office requesting them to grant him a leave of one week, apt came the reply, “Though you are not in office, you are in office, leave is granted.” Take a lesson from this disturbing event, but appreciate the commitment of this young lad of twenty-five years.

One among the present day requirements are the communication skills. It is essential that while one completes degree or the P.G program, one must develop the communication skills. My elder Brother gave me a mantra. I will pass this mantra to you. You will be reluctant and hesitant to speak English at home, with your relatives and friends.

What you need to do is to start speaking English when you enter the bus and stop English when you are out of the bus. You must speak English on enquiry counters at railway platforms, airports and malls. In ten minutes your audience is gone and you are free to switch back to your own mother tongue.

He also advised me to read a small column from any English newspaper daily. He asked me to note a word on a piece of paper, check its spelling and meaning and keep it in the pocket of my shirt and go through it number of times. This will add thirty words to your vocabulary in a month. If you can do this exercise for six months without break, I can assure you will be speaking fluent English. Try this mantra.

The pace of learning and work culture has changed drastically; therefore, we need to orient our self to distance education programs, online courses, virtual classrooms, digital libraries, language laboratories, incubation centers, electronic data banks, seminars and workshops to enhance our knowledge.

Today, parents are keen to admit their wards either in medicine, engineering, MCA or MBA. There are very few Muslim candidates who are opting for basic sciences and courses like Micro-Biology, Bio-Chemistry, Bio-Technology and many such other courses. The number of Muslim scientists is diminishing and has reached a stage of single digit. Time has come for all the Muslim parents to ponder and inculcate among the youth the love for science, social sciences, law and humanities.

Though we have entered the post-modern era, the ethical values, respect for parents, elders and help for the poor and the needy, which is enshrined in our religion – Islam is fast disappearing in our day to day life. Islam wants to establish a just, ethical and economically balanced society.

Muslim youth must exemplify themselves by adopting and adoring these values. Huge material is available on different Islamic websites. Please spend your ten minutes every day with these sites that will make you a true and a valuable Muslim.

Such people and nations who do not equip themselves according to the time, age and society are relegated into background. Time has come to regroup, reorganize and fall in line with the requirements of our time. Education is the key. Wishing you all the best!

(The writer is an ex-Vice Chancellor of Osmania University, Hyderabad and currently teaches in Islamic Studies Dept.)